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Doug Johnson

Gustrow Bing boys

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Doug Johnson

In 1918 a pierrot troupe was formed in Gustrow by British and Commonwealth prisoners. The first concert took place around July and a second concert on 8th September.

Those taking part and on the committee were as follows;

W/O Archibald Paul Kennedy AN&MEF Taken prisoner by the German Raider Wolf from the SS Matunga. Arrived in Gustrow about March 1918. President of the Committee

Sgt J H Jones

Sgt Richardson

Sgt J Ridge 8/North Staffordshire, Also worked in the Post Office

Cpl Will Ebdon

Pte Fred Checketts

Pte Harold Charles Phelps, 1/London Scottish, taken prisoner in 1914. Spoke German, French, Italian and a little Russian. Worked in the British Post Office and as a medical orderly in the camp hospital, took church services in the hospital, conducted the British ‘choir’ at the opening of the war memorial. Was on the committee and took part in concerts from 1915 onwards. Awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, presumably for the outstanding work he performed in the camp.

Pte David B Pryde, 1/London Scottish, taken prisoner in 1914. Organised the British Post Office in the camp. MID possibly for services in the camp.

Cpl W Brooks

Cpl F Smith

Cpl E Smith

Pte A L Pruden

Cpl W Hamilton

Cpl Harold Le Plastrier Jackson AN&MEF taken prisoner in 1917 on board the SS Matunga. Served in the transport office at the camp after the war ended.

Cpl A Markham, pianist.

Sgt J Hamill, carpenter.

Pte P Carroll, did the costumes

Giot and Michiels did the lighting, presumably Belgians.

Georges Melik, orchestra conductor

post-7895-1133986434.jpg

Harold Phelps

post-7895-1133987104.jpg

David Pryde

post-7895-1133987219.jpg

Archibald Kennedy

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Doug Johnson

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Doug Johnson

post-7895-1133988000.jpg

Georges Melik the conductor

post-7895-1133988221.jpg

This photograph shows all the players plus the British Committee

F Checketts is on the extreme left, Sgt Ridge is dressed in female clothes, A L Pruden wears the pointy hat, immediately left of the pointy hat in uniform is Archibald Paul Kennedy and to the left of him at the back is David B Pryde.

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Kate Wills

Doug

Thankyou for posting this. The original Bing Boys was a revue which had several incarnations on the West End just before and during the war. I was interested to see the name Pruden, as a local soldier by the name of Prudan was a POW in Gustrow, although with different initials. I could provide some further information if you wish. The chap in your photo (pointy hat) is dressed as a pierrette (female pierrot) so is also a female impersonator.

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Doug Johnson

Kate,

Details of anyone who was at Gustrow, even if only for a short while, which would apply to most of the British prisoners, would be very welcome.

Here is a photograph taken at the time of the first of the Bing Boys concerts;

post-7895-1134070655.jpg

The cast may be different and the programme will have varied.

Doug

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julian35

My Grandfather was Albert Pruden. I have the Bing Boys program that is shown in this topic and many individual photos of the Gustrow Bing Boys. I also have two other programs from Gustrow on Oct 17, 1918 and July 28, 1918. My grandfather (Albert Louis Millet Pruden)is, in fact, the one with the pointy hat. I cannot believe I actually found other information about this on the web. He moved to Canada in the 60's and died in 1968. He was a wonderful man, full of fun and always a kind word. He loved hunting and fishing was his passion. Is there any way of finding out how and when he would have captured??

post-29659-1199438197.jpg

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Doug Johnson

Hi Julian,

Welcome.

Stunned to see this again after two years. Well worth the wait though.

Theatre performances started in early 1915 when the camp moved from the tents to the huts. A full list of the programmes I have is as follows apart from the one in italics.

List of entertainments at Güstrow;

1915

24th May Concert

6th June Matinee

22nd July Classical Concert

5th August British Concert

8th August Classical Concert

10th October Soiree Theatrale

14th October British Concert

17th October Soiree Theatrale

7th November Classical Concert

27th November British Concert

5th December Classical concert

12th December La Revue

19th December La Revue

1916

7th January Concert

20th January British Concert

3rd February Russian Concert

10th February British Concert

20th February Classical Concert

4th March Flemish Concert

17th March British Concert

26th March Classical Concert

30th March International Concert

2nd April International Concert

1918

July? First British Pierrot Concert

18th September Second British Pierrot Concert

You can see from that that I do not have either of the two you have!

The theatre actually closed in 1917 and became a cafe as there were insufficient PoWs in the camp to put on performances. Even so there may have been some entertainments put on. In March 1918 a large number of prisoners started to arrive, firstly from the "Wolf" (about 300 in one train load) and then from the spring offensive. The camp then became busy again.

Your Grandfather and mine (Pte E T Johnson, London Scottish) would have certainly known each other though not well enough for mine to have obtained a photograph of yours though I do have well over 140 of the camp, groups and individuals.

Your Grandfather has proved difficult to identify. There is only one Albert L Pruden in the MIC index and he was with the RAMC. Apart from early in the war, medical personnel were usually returned so this seemed unlikely. There are two gunners who are also candidates, one Albert in the RGA and an A in the RFA. Do you know what unit your grandfather was in?

The only other information I have been able to add to the list of personnel above is that Fred Checketts was in the Berkshires.

I have several other photographs of the Bing Boys including one compiled from individual photographs but I do not have any of the original photographs that it was made up from.

I would be grateful for any information, photographs etc that you have and I will sent you my e-mail address in a PM.

Doug

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Kate Wills

Wow, what a wonderful start to the New Year for both of you.

Julian - Did your grandfather ever mention his war service and stage career.? Did he take part in theatricals before the war, or with his unit before captivity?

Doug - Could you give me an idea of what was performed in Gustrow's classical concerts please?

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Doug Johnson

Kate,

Parts of programmes for the Classical concerts. Some of the others also included classical music.

post-7895-1199463900.jpg

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Doug

More to follow

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Doug Johnson

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Doug Johnson

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This is the compiled photograph. All the individual images have names underneath which are difficult to read except on the original. Interestingly, the pointy hat man is named as L Pruden though it does not help as there is no L Pruden in the MIC index. Does that mean that he was called by his second name?

Doug

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Doug Johnson

Although theatrical performaces were common at most camps and there are hundreds of photographs out there, I only have the following one from Gustrow (apart from the Bing boys);

post-7895-1199467282.jpg

I have not been able to relate it to a specific performance.

Doug

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Kate Wills

Thanks very much Doug. I would have gladly paid to attend those concerts. The performers were very enterprising.

I was interested to see Andre Caplet's music in one of the programmes. He continued to compose whilst on active service, and was eventually gassed. He survived the war, but with chronic pleurisy, which led to his early death in 1925.

I'll have a look through my POW theatre pictures and see if any match.

Thanks again

Kate

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Doug Johnson

Kate,

There also seems to be a fair proportion of German composers represented which may have been deliberate. Most of these concerts were to raise money for either the less well off PoWs or for the memorial and getting the German guards in would have been beneficial.

Doug

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Guest Susan East
Kate,

There also seems to be a fair proportion of German composers represented which may have been deliberate. Most of these concerts were to raise money for either the less well off PoWs or for the memorial and getting the German guards in would have been beneficial.

Doug

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julian35
This is the compiled photograph. All the individual images have names underneath which are difficult to read except on the original. Interestingly, the pointy hat man is named as L Pruden though it does not help as there is no L Pruden in the MIC index. Does that mean that he was called by his second name?

Doug

Ah Yes. The man in the pointy hat is in fact my grandfather. Albert Louis Pruden

biggrin.gif

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high wood

This group photograph was taken in Gustrow and includes Harold Phelps of the London Scottish who was featured in post 1.

post-6480-1203015344.jpg

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Doug Johnson

High Wood,

Rear Row L-R: 2201 Pte David B Pryde (MiD for his work in the camp); 2109 Pte Sydney Fraser Baker; 1423 Pte Edgar Thomas Johnson (my Grandfather); 1661 Pte Harold Charles Phelps MSM; 1771 Pte Reginald L Anderson.

Front Row L-R: 1002 Cpl St John M Young; 2342 Pte Robert M McCallum (MiD for bravery re the capture of Cpt Henderson); Cpl 374 Gerald McLeod Carey

Photo taken late 1917 early 1918.

Doug

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high wood

Doug, to use the vernacular, I am gob smacked! I have had this card in my collection for about 10 years and had thought that I would be unable to research it any further as I only had the one name to go on. Thank you so much for supplying the details of these men. As to your estimate of the date, spot on.

post-6480-1203029832.jpg

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australis

Hi Doug,

I'm trying to find information about my great-grandfather, Cpl Harold LePlastrier Jackson, and I found your forum through Google. Is there any chance you have more information about him, or a photo in which he has been identified? I'm Australian, living in Berlin, Germany, and I'm also curious to know if there would be any further information in Gustrow, or maybe a memorial at the location of the camp, to know if it would be worthwhile making the trip there. I speak German, so any further information you have in German is fine with me.

Thanks so much, and look forward to hearing from you!

Jen

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Doug Johnson

Hi Jen,

Welcome to the forum.

I don't know how much you already know about your GGrandfather but this is what you can find on the web if you know where to look.

Enlisted 3rd October 1916

Born in Carlton, Victoria

Was a civil servant before enlistment in the AASC, later in the Naval Military Expeditionary Force "C" Coy no 596

Married Christina Bowen Jackson and lived at "Cairnsfoot" Harcourt, Victoria

Father was Charles Jackson 61 May Street Coburg Victoria

His religion was Pres.

At the time of enlistment he was 24 years and 6 months old

He was 5ft 43/4 inches tall weighed 117 lbs had grey eyes and brown hair

He was promoted to corporal on the 1st November 1916

Embarked on the SS Matunga at Sydney on the 27th July 1917

Taken prisoner by the German raider Wolf on the 6th August 1917

Arrived Gustrow March 1918

Shared a room with three others

Was a member of the camp Help Committee

Volunteered to stay behind at Gustrow organising the transport for the other prisoners (NB he was a driver in the AASC before transfer to the ANMEF

Repatriated to England 31st December 1918

Was admitted to the 3rd Australian Hospital at Dartford on the 3rd January 1919 suffering from a blistered heel

Was A/Sgt on the 1st April 1919 (for the return trip on the "Shropshire") arrived Australia on the 16th May 1918

back to corporal on the 17th May 1919

Discharged on the 7th June 1919

There is more detail.

I have a lot of information on Gustrow but most of it dates from before he arrived.

There are photographs of Gustrow on this part of the forum (including the war memorial as existed in 1918) but your search has to be on Guestrow, Gustrow and Güstrow in order to find everything.

The photograph of all the Bing Boys in post 11 has him on it at the bottom right corner as P Jackson

I have not been able to locate the camp as yet. I have a lot of references to where it was but can't find any of the places on the web. I will post the details later and perhaps you have access to better information and can locate it for me. I have found a place that looks right but it needs researching.

NB the camp was broken up in the 1920's and as it was mostly of wood I doubt that much exists of it but it would be nice to know where it was.

Doug

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Doug Johnson

These are the clues as to where the camp was;

The camp is situated at Premierburg, in pine woods, about 5 kilometers from the city of Güstrow.

The most important Camp in Mecklenberg, was a large enclosure on low lying ground close to the station of Priemerburg, three miles outside the town of Güstrow, itself only 26 miles from the Baltic.

The camp was about a 1/4 mile from the station.

So it was about 3km from Gustrow near a station at Premierburg. Should be easy to find!

Doug

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apwright

Jen,

The ruined memorial of the POW camp is pictured here: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...ngenenlager.jpg

"Gefallenendenkmal 1914/18 des Gefangenenlagers von Kriegsgefangenen 1918 in Güstrow Bockhorst errichtet, stark zerstört, in Resten erhalten. In Güstrow Bockhorst lag während der NS-Zeit ein Flugplatz der Luftwaffe."

Type "gustrow-bockhorst, germany" into Google Earth and it takes you to a complex of buildings in the woods adjacent to a glider airfield. It's about a quarter of a mile north of Priemerburg railway station.

Adrian

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australis

Hi Doug,

Found it. Learning German for 17 years turns out to have paid off.

The former camp is now a field and apparently also part of it is a shooting range about 400m NNE of the Primerburg station. There's a memorial in the middle of the field, which apparently is a popular geocaching site. The coordinates of the memorial are N 53° 48.762 E 012° 14.325.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=GROSSER%20BO...l=en&tab=wl

Also found a website about the history of Güstrow - http://guestrowak.piranho.de. Scroll down on the left-hand menu and click on Kriegsgefangene. It's in German, but here's a partial translation. If you want more, just let me know - I can translate the rest in a few days.

"Just after the start of WWI in 1914, construction began on a large POW camp on the grounds of the exercise grounds Grosser Bockhorst on the road to Glasewitz in Guestrow. It was a so called "Mannschaftslager" (group camp) for soldiers and low-ranking officers - higher officers would be taken to a different camp. The German officials were confronted with a surprisingly high number of POWs at th estart of the war, who could be accommodated at least temporarily in tents and canvas barracks. There was a wide range of nationalities among the prisoners - French, Belgian, English and a large number of Russians. 50,000 prisoners were registered at the camp, but this number included the numerous "Arbeitskommandos" (work groups) and other satellite camps in Mecklenburg. There are reports that many prisoners were only kept at Guestrow for a few weeks before being transported to other camps in Schleswig-Holstein. The soldiers were enlisted to help with the harvest in the local communities, and also to help fell trees in local forests...."

There are also a lot of photos - not sure if you've already got them.

Jen

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Doug Johnson

Sad to see the memorial in such a state. Here it is on the day it opened;

post-7895-1271964875.jpg

Notice that it is in the middle of the cemetery. Presumably all trace of the cemetery has been erased or the monument has been moved.

Doug

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