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mrfrank

Bad Colberg POW camp. Photo album 1917-18

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mrfrank

Just thought I'd start this new thread to keep it separate from the original one concerning Pte Swift of the 2nd Sherwood Foresters that had the following link:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=224629

After the initial request for information, Pte Swift's granddaughter realised the relevance of a photograph album in the family and has kindly allowed me to take a look at it. It contains many photographs [both single posed and group shots] of fellow captive officers and men and also others of daily camp life and entertainments. Quite a lot of these photos are signed and dated and appear to have been swapped between the men as souvenirs. The vast majority of the images were taken by a local photographer called Max Gunther who had his studio in Rodach which is situated a little to the north-east of Bad Colberg. Helpfully, he numbered them so I presume I can put them into some sort of date order in which they were taken. I believe that they were mainly taken in 1918. I don't know a great deal about the camp - other than what I've quickly found out on the web - that it was a former thermal waters sanatorium that held 245 officers and 70 other ranks as orderlies.

I'm sure these images will be of some interest to forum members who may be able to add information regarding them or indeed identify some of these individuals. I'll try to list them over the coming days in date order. The first doesn't have the photographer's numbering sequence, but the two individuals have signed the card in June 1917. This appears to be the earliest image and features an early VC winner who was captured near Laventie on 13th October 1914, made numerous escape attempts and was interned in Holland in March 1918 and repatriated following the armistice.

They are both from the 15th Hussars:

to the left - Cpl Charles Ernest Garforth VC

to the right - a Saddler Corporal whose name is unfortunately unclear

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Edited by Mike Frankish

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mrfrank

The next one is the first to pick up the photographers numbering sequence and features:

G. Butler, 1st Warwickshire Regt.
AG Hermon, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles

Think the former is the George Butler featured in the National Rolls of the Great War. Pte 9056 1st Warwicks of Sparkbrook, Birmingham who was mobilised as a reservist and wounded/captured. The Red Cross files give his d.o.b. as May 1879 and say he was captured at Cambrai on 26th August 1914.

The second is Alfred George Hermon 106282 of Alsask, Saskatchewan. C Coy, 1CMR who was captured at Ypres on 2nd June 1916.

The weedy looking tree is a feature in most of the photographs as this must have been the favoured spot for taking photographs.

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mrfrank

Next two:

Private Herbert Swift himself who collected and saved the photos. Regt number 12144. C Coy 2nd Sherwood Foresters. Captured at Armentieres on 20th Oct 1914.

Private David Belshaw S/16942 B Coy (7th?) Cameron Highanders of Franklin Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow. Captured at Hulluch, Loos on 26th September 1915.

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mrfrank

This is an odd one. According to the details written on the reverse this is Pte R J Fraser of the 16th Battalion AIF. Taken in 1918 and giving his home address as Broome Hill, Great Southern Region, Western Australia. Due to the numbering sequence this was almost certainly taken on the same day as the last posted image and it would appear that this individual has borrowed L/Cpl Belshaw's Cameron Higlander's uniform complete with same small rip to the front of the apron/kilt!

I cannot find this individual in the Red Cross records, only a missing person's card for someone of the same name who was killed at Fromelles with the 59th Bn. If someone could either find the record, or tell me a bit more about him or where he was captured, I'd be grateful.

Now found his Red Cross record: Robert Fraser, B Coy, 16th Bn, AIF. Captured at Bullecourt on 11th April 1917 aged 37. Born Kircudbright and father's address given in Dumfries - Now I know why he wanted to wear the Scottish uniform for the photo.

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Edited by mrfrank

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mrfrank

Left - Captain Leopold James Graham-Toler MC. 4th Middlesex. I've seen some conflicting dates regarding his capture. The Red Cross records state that he was wounded on 27th August and put his date of capture as 3rd September 1914. Can anyone confirm? His home address is written to the reverse as Beechwood Park, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Ireland. He was transferred in to Bad Colberg on 14th March 1918 so the photograph is taken sometime between that date and 21st May 1918. His MC was gazetted on the 2nd February 1920.

Right - 2nd Lt Harold William Medlicott RFC. Captured at Courcelles 10th Nov 1915. Killed aged 25, along with Capt JS Walter of the Queen's RWSR, at Heldburg on the 21st May 1918 whilst attempting to escape. Buried at Nederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel.

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mrfrank

The next two are images of some of the other ranks/orderlies. Unfortunately, this time unsigned without a cap badge in sight.

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mrfrank

A posed group shot on the entrance steps that includes some of those individuals already named. Plenty of cap badges on display.

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mrfrank

Another posed group shot, this time with two individuals identified from later individual shots.

Back row at left:

Pte Herbert Loseby 9719, D Coy, 1st Leicesters. Wounded and captured at the chemical factory, Rue du Bois on the 25th October 1914 when aged 20. Home address Dorset Street, Leicester.

Middle row at right:

Pte M Gallagher 9829, 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers. Red Cross records state that he was captured at Oisy on 29th August 1914 when aged 19. Of Limerick, Ireland.

The majority of the other ranks thus far appear to have arrived at this camp in Feb 1918 and appear in the PA 20116-20118 and 20146-20149 Red Cross records. I'm sure that most of those un-named and featured in these images will be among those recorded there.

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mrfrank

Two officers that have already appeared in Capt Graham-Toler of 4th Middlesex to the left and 2nd Lt Medlicott, RFC to the right.

In the centre:

Lt William Edward Hardy Spicer, 1st West Yorkshire Regiment captured during a trench raid at Loos on 17th April 1917 aged 22. Of Whitley Bay, Northumberland.

Image probably taken just before Medlicott's final, abortive escape attempt and signed by Lt Spicer 10 days after Medlicott's death.

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mrfrank

The reverse of that last PC of the three officers with the next of kin addresses for both of the officers killed in the escape attempt written in ink and the date of their deaths in pencil.

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headgardener

Thanks very much for posting these pics, Mike - I have a small collection of similar images taken at the same spot in Bad Colberg camp. Very interested to see yours, and I'm hoping it might help me to put names to the faces of some of my un-named officers!

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mrfrank

Next is a group shot of three officers.

Right: Unidentified Australian 2nd Lt

Middle: Again unidentified. A Lt whose cap badge is unfortunately not really visible.

Left: This officer has helpfully and quirkily signed his left leg. It's 2nd Lt Frederick William Harvey DCM, 5 Glos Regt. Captured on 17th August 1916 whilst on a recce patrol near Laventie aged 28. Native of Minsterworth, by the River Severn in Gloucestershire. He also wrote a short note to the reverse in pencil: 'To Private Swift, wishing him a speedy return to his native land'.

I recognised this individual as soon as I saw the name and Regt - during a spell living down in Gloucester, I'd picked up and read a book that covered the man and his life. He was a poet, writer, broadcaster [and solicitor] and a great friend of Ivor Gurney with who he shared a great love of his native county.

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mrfrank

Pte William Clements, A Coy, 4th Bn Royal Highlanders [black Watch]. Captured on 25th September 1915 at Loos aged 23. Unfortunately, cannot see a regimental number for him in the Red Cross records. Born Dundee, but next of kin in the records has his sister living in New Jersey, USA.

The thin sapling has now broken into leaf. I'm guessing, despite the later signature, that this dates the photo to sometime in May 1918.

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mrfrank

Private Andrew Storrie 11704 [enlisted 1913], D Company, 2nd Bn, King's Own Scottish Borderers. RC records state captured 29th Aug or 1st Sep 1914 during the retreat from Mons aged 28. Native of Hawick, Roxburghshire, Scotland.

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headgardener

The thin sapling has now broken into leaf. I'm guessing this dates the photo to sometime in May 1918.

Mike - the photo is dated 27 Oct 1918. The foliage is identical to that in the photo of Storrie, but that's dated 2 June 1918.....!

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stiletto_33853

Mike,

Great stuff, thank you for posting these.

Andy

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mrfrank

Just worth pointing out that the dates that accompany the signatures on these cards refer to the date they were signed and exchanged as opposed to when the image was actually taken. The last two, even though they have very different dates, were almost certainly taken in the same sitting in the May of 1918 as they have the photographer's concurrent numbering of 2150 and 2151.

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headgardener

Just worth pointing out that the dates that accompany the signatures on these cards refer to the date they were signed and exchanged as opposed to when the image was actually taken. The last two, even though they have very different dates, were almost certainly taken in the same sitting in the May of 1918 as they have the photographer's concurrent numbering of 2150 and 2151.

Agreed. The photos were definitely taken at the same time. Just interesting to note that they are dated so far apart.....! Sorry, I didn't mean to detract from this very interesting thread! Many thanks for posting these photos, mike.

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mrfrank

Next up is Private John Fawcett 9028 [enlisted late 1903] of C Coy, 2nd Bn Notts & Derby Regiment. Same Coy and Battalion as Private Swift and captured the same day - 20th October 1914 at the age of 29. Born Chesterfield and address give in RC records of Oak Street, Sheepbridge, Chesterfield.

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mrfrank

This image should have been a bit earlier in the thread as it's taken before the beginning of April 1918.

Bandsman James Sweeney 9728, C Coy 2nd Royal Irish Regiment. Captured at Mons on the 24th August 1914 aged 22. RC records state born London and father's address in East Ham, Essex.

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mrfrank

The next two images do not have the photographers numbering system on them.

However, they show the freshly dug graves of Walter and Medlicott following their deaths on 21st May 1918. They appear to be interred next to a Russian POW called Nikolai Noskoff and the writing on the wreath in Russian that is visible indicates that it's from the [fellow] prisoners at Bad Colberg. The writing on the wreaths for Waters and Medlicott is in German. The first two letters for the recently formed RAF are visible on a wreath in the second image.

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mrfrank

.....the second image:

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mrfrank

To the left on both cards:

Pte Percy Harris 14763, A Coy 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Captured at Mametz on 29th December 1915 aged 21 as the result of a German raid of the British lines following a high explosive and gas bombardment. A total of 20 battalion members were taken prisoner. A native of Kettering, Northants.

Pte Swift of 2nd Notts and Derby and an unidentified individual to the right.

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mrfrank

An unidentified lieutenant. I'm no expert at identifying badges [particularly when they're not very clear], but it looks like he could belong to the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment. I've looked at the blocks in the RC records from which the officers identified thus far come from [20088-96 and 20639-640] and, presuming I have the badge right, there are three possibles from the Queen's listed:

Lt Charles Reginald Smith of 1st or 2nd Bn

Lt Robert S Walker of 1st or 2nd Bn

Lt Maurice George Leonard Wallich of 6th Bn

Of course, there could be others and perhaps a forum member will identify him in the fullness of time!

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mrfrank

The first of the 'entertainments'..........

In pencil to reverse: "His Sister-in-Law" Company on Tour, Idler's Theatre, Bad Colberg

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