DLI POW HOME

HOME

Pte Hamilton remembers the US daylight bombing raid on the IG Farben complex on 20/8/44 when over 30 British POWs were killed. ‘They were bombed by US on IG Farben,  39 British POWs were killed because they were standing outside watching.  Later the Russians came in so low that there was no warning and they were bombing everything.’ 

In early 1945, Hamilton and the other British POWs were part of the infamous ‘Death March’ west to avoid the advancing Russians. ‘Started marching  away with Germans to guide them, sleeping in fields, if vegetables in the field they were digging them up and eating them.  When in Austria they started being billeted in farms until they reached a point where they were liberated by Americans.’

The first page from Pte Hamilton’s 1945 diary listing the tortuous course of this long trek, is reproduced above. The march began on 21/1/45. The gruelling routine for the POWs over this period was two days marching and one day’s rest, with only the shortest of rations and the constant threat of attack by Allied aircraft. The towns passed through are listed on the left and the distance covered, in kilometres, is on the right of the page reproduced above and those following. The diary is very difficult to read at this resolution, so a partial transcript is provided on the right of each page. Corrections to the spellings and any further information on these towns and villages most welcome. After over two months on the road, Hamilton was eventually liberated by US troops at Stalag 7A on April 30th 1945 and flown home to the UK via Rheims in France.

For the second page of the diary click here

For the third page of the diary click here

For the fourth page of the diary click here

For Pte G R Hamilton’s 1945 ‘Register Form for Recovered Prisoners of War’, which records his capture on 2/3/43 (note the misspelling of Sedjenane) and his liberation at Stalag 7A on 30/4/45, click here

And for a general overview of the British POW experience in Camp E 715, these two external sites are both recommended:

The Wollheim Memorial (and notice the photo on their page is of a different group of E 715 British POWs in the same locale).

Auschwitz Scrapbook (which has the Ronnie Hamilton E715 POW group photo as here but without a caption).

Pte G R Hamilton, ‘Long March’ POW Diary Pages, January-April 1945

The diary listing follows the format: Date, Town/Village, and distance covered in kilometres. Note well, some place name spellings here may be phonetic. Also, the wartime German names for some towns will almost certainly have reverted to Polish names post-1945.

Marching from Auschwitz 21st Jan 1945 to Regensburg 27th March 1945

21.1.45 Niw Bescin 15               
22.1.45 ? not known 25
23.1.45 Tichau 30
24.1.45 ? not known 30
25.1.45 Tihnow 3
26.1.45 Tunskirsch 20 ‘creu the colour’
27.1.45 Rest Day
28.1.45 Odorsch 30 ‘80 cases of frostbite’
29.1.45 Rest Day
30.1.45 Sorsen 25
31.1.45 Wokisdorf 25

01.2.45 Rest Day
02.2.45 Andersdorf 25
03.2.45 Bohm Lichli  25
04.2.45 Weiksdorf 25
Pte G R Hamilton POW Diary Page 1