Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Researching the wartime history of a British POW



The temporary wartime resting place of Driver Moreton Wilson RASC in St Michael’s Church, Hindenburg in what is now Poland. Most family and friends knew Moreton as ‘Joe’. Moreton was married to Violet and they had four children: two boys and two girls. The family home was in Workington, Cumberland (now Cumbria).

[This photograph was sent to the Wilson family by the German authorities via the Red Cross during the Second World War]

(For further information about Moreton Wilson see 'Comments' below)

7 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Some details about Driver Moreton Wilson’s time as a POW during WW2

Moreton Wilson was taken prisoner on 20 May 1940 during the rapid German advance through Belgium and Northern France to the English Channel. It was this date, 20 May 1940, that the eminent historian Sir Arthur Bryant explained with the possible exception of perhaps two days during the winter of 1941 / 1942 0 May 1940 “… was for the democracies the most disastrous day of the war”. Moreton spent the rest of his life in German POW camps.

Moreton died in Hindenburg hospital on 13 May 1944. Shortly afterwards, Moreton’s widow, Mrs Violet Wilson received several letters about Moreton’s death and interment. One letter the family received was from the Anglican Chaplain at the POW camp who conducted Moreton’s funeral service: Captain Reverend G. Kestell - Cornish. During the funeral service, Reverend Kestell - Cornish wrote that he had offered a prayer for Mrs Wilson and her family.

Moreton was initially interred at St Michael’s Cemetery, Hindenburg, on 18 May 1944 “with full military honours”. His coffin was carried to the cemetery by his own comrades. In 1948 Moreton was transferred from this temporary resting place to the permanent War Cemetery at Krakow Rakovicki, Poland (Grave Reference 4.D.13). This grave will be ‘commemorated in perpetuity’ by the CWGC.

Currently, the CWGC citation for Moreton Wilson currently does not give the names of his wife, parents or name Workington was his hometown. Recently, using information given on the BBC “People’s War” website, I was able to provide Moreton’s family with the address of the International Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland that holds Prisoner of War records. Moreton’s daughter wrote to this address of the ICRC requesting any details they might have regarding Moreton’s time as a POW. The Red Cross replied within a couple of weeks and provided many details that the family had not previously known.

Using the ICRC information, plus additional documents provided by the family, I have subsequently written to the CWGC about Moreton Wilson asking if they can update his record to include the missing details about his family. The CWGC have said they will consider the new information and let me know in about 6 to 8 weeks.

Driver Moreton Wilson, Service No T/60834 was taken prisoner at Albert or Doullens, France on 20 May 1940. He would spend the rest of his life as a Prisoner of War of the Germans. His German POW Number was 668.

According to Moreton Wilson’s ‘Attestation’ details in the Archive Records of the ICRC in Geneva between being captured in May 1940 and his death in May 1944, Moreton was interned in a several different POW camps. This is a list of those camps:

1. Dulag XII (Mainz) - early 1940

2. Oflag VIIC (arriving 14.06.1940)

3. Oflag VIB (transferred from Oflag VIIC about December 1941)

4. Oflag VIIB (transferred on 12.09.1942)

5. Stalag VIIA (transferred 20.12.1942)

6. Stalag VIIIB (transferred 14.04.1943)

It was through the Red Cross that the details of Moreton’s death and funeral service were passed to his family during the war. I have now placed a file about Moreton’s wartime history in the Records Office of Cumbria County Archives on behalf of Moreton’s family.

Wednesday, 31 May, 2006  
Blogger phoebe said...

This was very interesting to me as my father was an officer in the 6th Battalion Royal West Kent and fought at Doullens. His dates for transfer to Oflag VIIC (then the Archbishops Place at Salzburg -later Tittmoning) are the same, 14/6/1940 although I dont believe he was captured until around 7/6/1940. His German POW no was 669! Later he was in Oflag VIB Warburg (10/10/41), and Oflag VII B, Eichstatt, Bavaria (12/9/42). They must have known each other - do you have any photos which you can post on here as I have several with unidentified POWs in.

Monday, 29 January, 2007  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...

Phoebe

Welcome to our Blog and good luck in your resarch

Best wishes

Ron

Monday, 29 January, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...

Phoebe

You have some valuable information, thanks for that. Why not join us and post your photos here?

If you wish to join, email me at petergyATyahoo.com, replacing AT with @.

Monday, 29 January, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Hello Phoebe, Peter, Ron, Tom and others,

Thanks for the message. It is very intersting. I only have the one photograph of Moreton (generally known as 'Joe') while in the prison camp. I think that's the only one the family have. So if you have any others I know they would be delighted to see copies if you can post one or two to the Blog site? i know what it can be like, Phoebe, going through group photographs with relatives and friends and you don't know who the others are! You have my sympathy, and hopefully you will make some progress.

I have copied a few postcards that were designed and printed in the Prison camps, one of which I've also posted to the site (April 2006). In case you haven't seen this posting, this is a postcard from that Prison camp (also on this 'Second World War' Blog):

http://2ndww.blogspot.com/2006/04/wish-i-wasnt-here-postcard-christmas.html

I can send you electronic copies if you like? Some of these are drawings of the Prison camp by POWs and then posted back home. Possibly your family have copies of the same cards already?

How strange that your father should have the have the next POW number to Driver Moreton Wilson! I will print off your message and pass it to Mr Wilson's family. I know they will be delighted to see your message!

Although Moreton Wilson was not an officer, he was the batman to a Captain L. Croft RASC of Workington, Cumberland. So the Germans seemed to put Moreton in the same camp with his officer. Unfortunately I do not have a photograph of Captain Croft and I'm not sure the Wilson family have, but I will ask. I would think he could well be on the group photos you have even if Moreton is not.

Thanks for your message, Phoebe. It is really interesting.

Bi for now,

ritsonvaljos

Monday, 29 January, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moreton was my grandfather and my mum (Audrey) say that she thinks that Pheobe may be John Bishops daughter. Is this right??

If so my mum says that her dad was a father figure to John, in the camps, when he was first captured. He was so much a friend of the family that my mum, grandmother and aunt was invited to his wedding in Sevenoaks.

Monday, 12 February, 2007  
Blogger Duncan said...

My parents have just told me that my cousin has found a website about my grandfather!

The last poster is my cousin, an Moreton is my grandfater. He was my mother's (Dorothy) father.

I am really interested in finding out more about Moreton (Joe) because I visited his grave in Krakow War Cemetary last August.

I have photos of his final resting place in Krakow but do not know how to post here.

Friday, 16 February, 2007  

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