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shaymen

Escaped German POWs in UK

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shaymen

Came across this story of 3 Germans attempting to escape back to their homeland.

Thet seemed to have got quite a long way before being captured.

Thought it was worth sharing with you all.

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shaymen

2.00

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Guest Benoit Douville

Those 3 German POW escaped from where exactly?

Regards

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Moonraker

Um er, I'm having trouble accessing these images, dunno whether it's part of the transition stage in how the Forum handles images that Chris has briefed us on or whether it's me not having read some instructions somewhere or being stoopid in some other way.

Anyway, here's my two bits' worth on escaped PoWs:

When internment and prison camps were established in Wiltshire they were attached to military bases, including Upavon and Yatesbury airfields. Several featured in the national press (though, curiously, not so much in local newspapers) when warnings were issued to the public about escaped inmates.

In May 1917, Scotland Yard announced that three Germans had escaped from their camp on the eastern side of Larkhill. They had been dressed in German uniforms, but these had been found discarded. On September 13 that year, three German soldiers and two sailors escaped from Fovant, three being quickly recaptured, the other two being caught a day or so later.

A month later, perhaps the cheekiest escape of the war, and certainly one with melodramatic aspects, was made from the camp next to Yatesbury Airfield, when Lieutenant Paul Scheumann scrambled through the barbed wire, made his way to Chippenham wearing a suit fashioned from blankets and a mackintosh bought locally and took the train to London. He went to the theatre, before registering at Bellomo's Private Hotel in Jermyn Street as Thomas Hann, High-street 145, Bristol'. This aroused Signor Bellomo's suspicions because 'all Germans write the number thus', as he told The Times. He alerted one Sergeant Cole, and the two observed the suspect guest at breakfast, when a waiter assured the hotelier, 'That man is a Bosche'. By his own account Bellomo took the initiative:

'I interrogated the lieutenant. He said, I am a Swiss.' I said, You are a German soldier: own up.' He did so quite cheerfully, and we all went to his room. Sergeant Cole asked the lieutenant to accompany him, and he smilingly agreed. I gave him some sandwiches, and said, 'You're lucky to be treated in this way. I hope you'll tell your friends how well we treat German prisoners here.' He laughed, and went off with Sergeant Cole.

In its own report of the incident, the Wiltshire Gazette had the policeman telling the German that his recapture was 'the fortunes of war'.

Most escapees appear to have been recaptured quickly, but the two who came closest to success were the German sailors Otto Homke and Conrad Sandhagen, who escaped from Larkhill on April 17, 1918 and were at liberty until early May, when they were caught trying to take a boat on the south-east coast with the aim of crossing to Zeebrugge. They were dressed as civilian sailors, in blue serge clothes and high boots, and between them had an Australian shilling and nearly œ1 in English silver coins. A mile from where they were caught they had hidden two bags containing biscuits, bread and other food, clothing, razor, shaving brush and knife. The men looked robust and well fed and one had a large bottle of water.

In September 1918 The Times reported that two Germans who had escaped from Upavon had been recaptured, followed a day later by news that two more from the same camp had given themselves up at Banbury, sixty miles away.

Six prisoners from Yatesbury were in trouble in early 1919, when they appeared in court accused of stealing bacon fat from the factory of C & T Harris & Co of Calne. They had stuffed the fat down the fronts of their trousers. The camp commandant, Captain Mursell, told the court that the prisoners had bread and coffee before leaving camp and took with them a light lunch of coffee, cheese and bread. Each man's daily allowance was thirteen ounces of bread, one and a half ounces of cheese and four ounces of beef or horseflesh. This was, the captain said, sufficient to keep them going but it was not sufficient to satisfy their abnormal appetites. 'They are gross eaters.' All the accused were sentenced to two months in prison with hard labour.

Even hungrier must have been the three Germans from a Salisbury Plain internment camp' (perhaps Larkhill or Bulford) caught by Amesbury police in October 1919; they had been slipping out of confinement to kill sheep, taking the carcasses to eat back at camp.

Moonraker

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shaymen
Those 3 German POW escaped from where exactly?

Regards

From a POW camp in Bishop's Stortford Herts , But they were recaptured.

Afraid we will have to wait for Chris to load all the images again

Glyn

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Derek Robertson

Taken from the "Hawick Express" of September 21st, 1917:

'It transpires that the 6 escaped German prisoners who were captured by the British naval patrol in the North Sea a fortnight ago were the men who got away from Stobs. (Stobs was a large military and POW camp just south of Hawick). They made their way across the hills and moors, and were supposed to have made for Newbigging Point, where they hoped a boat would be in readiness for them. They struck the coast a few miles north of the point, just below Amble, where they succeeded in buying provisions, and in the neighbourhood of the little fishing village of Cresswell they came across a boat which they seized. The boat was sighted by a trawler 170 miles from land, and a passing destroyer took them prisoner. There were submarine prisoners among them, and some of them had revolvers. Two had Iron Crosses.'

The story must have caused a few searching questions to be asked. Why should a boat have been ready for the men and where did they get the guns?

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auchonvillerssomme

A few years back while going through the Doncaster Gazette for 1918 I came across a story of a German soldier escaping from his escort from a train in Doncaster Station. I believe he ran barefoot down the tracks and got away. I will try to find the article. But in the meantime...was this a common occurrence?

Mick

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John_Hartley

No. Most of them kept their shoes on.

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auchonvillerssomme

well i was wondering why he didnt have his boots on. a cunning (unsuccesful) plan by his guards?

Mick

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Pete1052

Removing prisoners' shoes or boots is a standard technique for preventing their escape.

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Moonraker

I've posted some of the following details of PoWs in Wiltshire before but appreciate the difficulty of locating them:

In May 1917, Scotland Yard announced that three Germans had escaped from their camp on the eastern side of Larkhill. They had been dressed in German uniforms, but these had been found discarded. On September 13 that year, three German soldiers and two sailors escaped from Fovant, three being quickly recaptured, the other two being caught a day or so later.

A month later, perhaps the cheekiest escape of the war, and certainly one with melodramatic aspects, was made from the camp next to Yatesbury Airfield, when Lieutenant Paul Scheumann scrambled through the barbed wire, made his way to Chippenham wearing a suit fashioned from blankets and a mackintosh bought locally and took the train to London. He went to the theatre, before registering at Bellomo's Private Hotel in Jermyn Street as "Thomas Hann, High-street 145, Bristol". This aroused Signor Bellomo's suspicions because "all Germans write the number thus", as he told The Times. He alerted one Sergeant Cole, and the two observed the suspect guest at breakfast, when a waiter assured the hotelier, "That man is a Bosche". By his own account Bellomo took the initiative:

"I interrogated the lieutenant. He said, 'I am a Swiss.' I said, 'You are a German soldier: own up.' He did so quite cheerfully, and we all went to his room. Sergeant Cole asked the lieutenant to accompany him, and he smilingly agreed. I gave him some sandwiches, and said, 'You're lucky to be treated in this way. I hope you'll tell your friends how well we treat German prisoners here.' He laughed, and went off with Sergeant Cole."

In its own report of the incident, the Wiltshire Gazette had the policeman telling the German that his recapture "was the fortunes of war". Most escapees appear to have been recaptured quickly, but the two who came closest to success were the German sailors Otto Homke and Conrad Sandhagen, who escaped from Larkhill on April 17, 1918 and were at liberty until early May, when they were caught trying to take a boat on the south-east coast with the aim of crossing to Zeebrugge. They were dressed as civilian sailors, in blue serge clothes and high boots, and between them had an Australian shilling and nearly £1 in English silver coins. A mile from where they were caught they had hidden two bags containing biscuits, bread and other food, clothing, razor, shaving brush and knife. The men looked robust and well fed and one had a large bottle of water.

In September 1918 The Times reported that two Germans who had escaped from Upavon had been recaptured, followed a day later by news that two more from the same camp had given themselves up at Banbury, sixty miles away.

From the above, it'll be seen that that The Times regularly reported on escapes (but not always recaptures).

Moonraker

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Moonraker
A few years back while going through the Doncaster Gazette for 1918 I came across a story of a German soldier escaping from his escort from a train in Doncaster Station. I believe he ran barefoot down the tracks and got away. I will try to find the article. But in the meantime...was this a common occurrence?

Mick

Reference my earlier reply to this query: now I'm not sure. Mick, if you meant were prisoners' attempted escapes common (as I initially inferred), or was it common for PoWs under escort to be barefoot (as others have inferred, perhaps tongue in cheek)?

Moonraker

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auchonvillerssomme

escapes, the answer to the footwear comment was optional :lol:

Mick

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rodami

Hi

Just found this site and am really excited as I have had an interest in WW1 POWs for a while, since I discovered that a relation died of disease in a Turkish POW camp in 1916 after being captured on Gallipoli....anyway continuing on the topic of this thread, in New Zealand (where I am from) we had an infamous German escaper in Felix von Luckner who escaped from the island he was being held on off the NZ coast, stole a boat and made it as far as the Kermadec Islands which is about 1200km away or half way between NZ and Fiji before being recaptured.

See the attached link for a brief history

http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~tonyf/von/VonLuckner.html

Cheers

Rodney

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roger

I once read an acount of a German officer who escaped from Colsterdale camp and was recaptured at Masham train station.

I read this years ago when I only had a passing interest in the Great War and I can't remember what the book was called. I'd love to re-read it.

Roger

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Guest mruk

It seems that 1917 was the Year of the Escape, and while there's no mention of the shoeless and slipperless, there is of 'chocolate twill suits and puttees', and a lot of ingenuity and bare-faced cheek on the part of the escapees. There's also mention in The Times of two men in the Non-Combatant Corps who were accused of planning to help two German's abscond. One of the men was found guilty and sentenced two years hard labour reduced to 12 months, while the other was acquitted at their court-martial in Winchester. It's all interesting stuff, especially the descriptions that were circulated. Would the same have also made 'Hue and Cry' or the Police Gazette'?

Cheers,

Dave

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healdav

A standard escape preventer -dating from the time of the press gangs - was to remove belts.

Try running with your trousers round your ankles or holding them up. Barefoot running is simple (until you stub your toe).

In fact, I seem to remember that removing belts and slitting buttons or other securing device from the top of trousers was recommended for stopping captives from getting away in my orders in the 1960s (but I don't remember precisely; I know we were told to interrogate as close as possible to where the bomb wa thought to have been placed).

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MelPack

This might be of interest from the Nottingham Archives. Unfortunately, I have no information on the circumstances of the recapture.

post-859-1174928987.jpg

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James A Pratt III

Some old notes I have from the book "U-boat Itelligence" R.M. Grant mentions War Pilot Volker captured when the U-12 was sunk escaped from a POW camp in England got on board at Hull the Swedish bark Ionstorp. This ship was stoped by the U-16 which took him to Germany. He was killed when the U-44 was sunk.

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centurion

Whilst on the subject of POWs only one German POW in both world wars made a 'home run' directly from Britain. I enclose his details from something I wrote for another site, but would like to learn more.

"Gunther Plüschow who with his Etrich Taube formed the air defence of Tsingtao in 1914. When the fortress was about to fall he flew his aircraft into China until he ran out of fuel. He was eventually captured by the Chinese, escaped, was captured by the Japanese, escaped (being I think the only European in either world war to escape from the Japanese home islands) and took ship for Europe. He was unfortunate that his ship was searched by the Royal Navy when passing Gibraltar and he again became a POW with the British being sent to England where he escaped. This time he managed to stow away on a ship bound for neutral Holland and made his way across the border to Germany - where he was promptly arrested as a spy. He died in an air acident in South America in the 1930s. I believe that one of his grandsons was at one time German Ambassador to Great Britain.

Plüschow was the only German POW to make a successful escape from Britain in WW1. Indeed he was the only German POW to make a successful 'home run' from Britain in both World Wars (the other escapee, in WW2, jumped from a train in Canada and crossed the US border)."

Gunther Plüschow must class amongst the worlds top escapers.

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AndyMacdonald
Hi

Just found this site and am really excited as I have had an interest in WW1 POWs for a while, since I discovered that a relation died of disease in a Turkish POW camp in 1916 after being captured on Gallipoli....anyway continuing on the topic of this thread, in New Zealand (where I am from) we had an infamous German escaper in Felix von Luckner who escaped from the island he was being held on off the NZ coast, stole a boat and made it as far as the Kermadec Islands which is about 1200km away or half way between NZ and Fiji before being recaptured.

Rodney

An interesting story,

One of my relatives was a guard at Ripapa Island and acquired from the German crew some autographed photos (complete with personal messages), an iron cross 2nd class, and a penny coin bent so that it formed a right angle. Legend has it that von Luckner possessed enough strength to bend the coins with just his forefinger and thumb! Any way, an interesting footnote to an even more interesting story.

Andy M

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auchonvillerssomme

I have finally found the article...i was beginning to think i had imagined it. The date is interesting...1919.

Mick

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Wdragon

There was one German escapee from Britain who was not a POW. After the Dresden was sunk off Chile, in March 1915 her intelligence officer. lieutenant Canaris escaped through Chile. After making his way to Argentina he sailed on the Dutch Lloyd ship Frisia from Buenos Aires to Rotterdam disguised as a Chilean. The ship docked in Plymouth for inspection, Canaris was plausible enough to be allowed to continue the voyage on to Holland. From there he returned to Germany.

He went on of course to become the head of German Military Intelligence

Regards

David

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centurion
There was one German escapee from Britain who was not a POW. After the Dresden was sunk off Chile, in March 1915 her intelligence officer. lieutenant Canaris escaped through Chile. After making his way to Argentina he sailed on the Dutch Lloyd ship Frisia from Buenos Aires to Rotterdam disguised as a Chilean. The ship docked in Plymouth for inspection, Canaris was plausible enough to be allowed to continue the voyage on to Holland. From there he returned to Germany.

He went on of course to become the head of German Military Intelligence

Regards

David

I think he classes as an evader rather than an escapee as he wasn't actually captured in the first place (just as in WW2 RAF aircrew who avoided capture after being forced down and found their way back to Britain,often with help and papers from resistance groups and sometimes after they had been interogated at various check points, were classed as evaders rather than escapees. This evader classification caused problems if they turned up in neutral countries as, technically, they could be interned whereas an man who escaped from a POW camp could be be returned home) In WW1 some British evaders were interned in Holland.

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