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Remembered Today:

Sutton Bonington POW Escape 24th Sept 1917

John Beech

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Evening All

I am researching a POW escape from Sutton Bonington POW camp in Nottinghamshire on 24th September 1917. Further to a previous post I have now been able to identify the majority of the twenty three men who escaped with first names. From descriptions in a Times article it is also possible to identify which service some of then served in. Does anyone know of an accessible source where I can confirm the units of the men who escaped? Is there a database of German POW or escapers? If anyone can help identify the following further I would be grateful:

Kurt Berschmann - Army Leutnant der Reserve
Ferdinand? Boerner
? Boeulcke - Naval Officer / Pilot
Walter Burchagen - Naval Officer / Naval Pilot
? Feeberger
Hermann Gemest
? Hodzmann - Naval Officer / Naval Pilot
Karl or Carl Koch
? Kraus
Erich (Eric) Landoverg - Army Officer / Pilot
Emil Lehmann
Wilhelm Loewe - Naval Officer / Naval Pilot
Gustav Lunz - Army Officer / Pilot
Karl Maier - Army Officer / Pilot
Joseph (Josef) Mallmann - Naval Officer / Pilot
Kapitanleutnant Karl von Muller. Captain of the SMS Emden
Oberleutnant zur See Stephan Prondzynski - Pilot Seefleiger Abteilung 1 - The first German pilot to bomb Britain
Hans Routenberg
Ludwig Schorling
? Schwarz
Hans Stolemann
Leutnant Otto Thelen - Pilot Flieger Abteilung 5 - Escaped seven times before being interned in Holland
Joachim Thomsen - Naval Officer / Naval Pilot

Thank you in anticipation


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  • 1 month later...
Guest Bill Cawley

I was looking in the Leek Times yesterday and came across Emil Lehmann who escaped from Manchester railway staion and was captured on the moors above Leek in Feb 1917. He was charged with sacrilege because he broke into a Primitive Methodist chapel at Upper Elkstone and used the bibles in there as fuel to keep him self warm. I am writing up the escape and his discovery by a young girl ( it reminded me of "Whistle down the wind")

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Hi Bill

Thanks for this information, do you know where he was held when he escaped? I assume that he was then sent to Sutton Bonington - he appears to be a repeat offender! Any idea what happened to him?



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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Bill Cawley

It reminded me of the scene in the film “ Whistle down the wind” when the escaped prisoner is found by the children in a remote barn in lonely countryside. The event that reminded me of the 1960 film happened 43 years before in February 1917 during the depths of winter in the remote Moorland village of Upper Elkstone. It certainly caused a commotion in Leek where crowds turned out to see the prisoner appeared at the local court. It even made newspapers in different parts of the world. Some months later the Wairarapa Daily Times in New Zealand reported that a German Naval Sub Lieutenant Emil Lehmann was arrested following his escape from Manchester and charged with sacrilege. It was alleged that he broke into a Methodist chapel and used bibles to make a fire. The account made it to be a typical hunnish trick

The chapel in question was a Primitive Methodist chapel at Upper Elkstones where Lehmann must have stayed some time before being discovered by a group of children who saw smoke coming out of the building. The leader of the children Sarah Ann Bricklebank of Royal Farm ,Upper Elkstones was a church members and had keys. The German officer was 24 and described in court as having dark hair and was wearing an overcoat with naval waistcoat and wearing a grey soft cap. He had escaped from an escort at Central Railway station in Manchester while being transferred from an internment camp at Knockaloo Internment camp on Isle of Man to Kegworth in the East Midlands and somehow had made his way on to the hills above Leek. He was courteous to the children one of whom had the presence of mind to run to a local policeman. A chase ensued involving a number of police and locals who pursued Lehmann across fields. He was caught and in a very British way was taken to Onecote Police Station and given a mug of tea and toast.

Lehmann was taken to Leek and charged with the unusual charge of sacrilege for burning bibles in the Primitive Methodist chapel stove ( understandably as it was February). In court he spoke through an interpreter he said that he did not know that the building was a chapel and that he had previously served on a battleship. The report tried to suggest that he attempted to entice the young girl which Lehmann denied. One gets the impression with Lehmann that he was someone who did not give in and some months later he and a number of other German Prisoners of War attempted a mass breakout from Sutton Bonington Prisoner of War camp in Nottinghamshire. He seems to have been a repeat offender.

Lehmann’s story is just of the hidden stories of the First World War in Leek as is the stories of the Belgian refugees in Bath Street, the raids on the Hippodrome for deserters, the parrot that helped the war effort, the young sailor who went down on the Hampshire with Lord Kitchener and the party for returned prisoners in the Red Lion in February 1919.

It is an article- I write a weekly piece for the Post and Times. This one is scheduled for the 21st may

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Many thanks for sharing your article with me.

Lehmann wad quite a repeat offender. I must admit though to having a sneaking admiration for his persistence!

It has proved very difficult to find information on the escapees, do you know what happened to him? He is only the fifth of the escapees who has been positively identified



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