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Thread: POW Rowland May (158045)

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    Default POW Rowland May (158045)

    I'm trying to piece together the movements of Rowland May (service no. 158045) after his capture near Nuernberg in August 1943.

    From the onset, the extant records provide somewhat confusing information.

    The Bomber Command Loss Card for Lancaster W5008 records Sgt. Rowland May (no. 1322721) as the only survivor of the crew after the bomber crashed on 28.08.43. However, according to the London Gazette, he had been promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer (on probation) six weeks earlier on 07.08.43. In the ORBs, he was consistently listed as a Sgt. R. May.

    As a POW, he is listed in AIR 20/2336 as F/O May (POW no. 222737) of Stalag IVB. He had been promoted on 07.12.43, while in captivity.

    He is also listed, but as a P/O, in the following two archive files:

    AIR 40/1488 - Stalag Luft III (East): nominal rolls of prisoners of war and recommendations for meritorious work (1945 Jan.- July)

    and

    AIR 40/269 - Marlag-Milag Nord - Oflag L roll ex Stalag Luft III (1 Feb - 31 Mar 1945)

    Was he actually in all three camps, or is the information in AIR 20/2336 incorrect?

    Given that he was presumably wearing sergeant's stripes when he was captured, how would the German authorities have been notified that he was actually an officer and that he was later promoted? Via the ICRC?

    Any thoughts?

    Justin

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    You'd be surprised as to what got to the POWs from London, via the ICRC. I have a copy of a letter from London to the sole survivor of a crash, asking for the details of how the aircraft was lost.

    Stalag IVB Mühlberg was an Army NCO camp with a section for NCO aircrew.

    Presuming that once he was commissioned he was moved to Luft III, one of the four places the camp was evacuated to on 27 January 1945 was the Naval and Merchant Marine Camp at Marlag und Milag Nord.

    Only his service records would tell for sure. As you know he certainly has been deceased the required 25 years: http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=762304.0

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Dave,

    Thank you for your reply. That letter sounds very interesting; I'll come back to it later.

    While digging around on the internet, I came across the website stalag4d.atspace.co.uk which provides a wealth of information about Stalag IVB. In particular, there is a very long section about the allocation of POW nos. 222000 to 253000 between late Sep. and early Oct. '43, which were mostly allocated to British Army POWs transferred to Germany from camps in Italy. However, from about 222400 onwards, there is a continuous batch of about 500 RAF Bomber Command aircrew of all ranks, which were allocated alphabetically and cover aircrews shot down between early Jul. and early Sep. '43.

    As you say, news of his promotion must have come from the ICRC.

    Now, returning to the letter you mentioned. Does it have a correspondence or reference number on it? The reason I ask is that the aforementioned BC Loss Card cites two documents, both in the format PW/BR/5xxxx/44, which appear to have contained statements from Rowland about the fate of his fellow crew members.

    Justin

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    Justin,

    There are no file numbers of any sort.

    It was written by 11027 W/O Leslie Barker, RAF, British Man of Confidence, Stalag VI-G and addressed to The International Red Cross, I/C Records, Quai La Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland.

    It concerned the crash of Lancaster PB634, lost 28 December 1944 and pertained to the identity disc of one of the casualties which the Germans gave Barker.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Hi Justin,

    AIR20/2336 is a snapshot of the situation circa March/April 1944.

    It was part of a periodic series of lists internally issued by the War Office that condensed the information from a variety of sources.

    So consider it as his last known location to be just prior to the creation of the list.

    As part of the usual PoW purges and movements he would have subsequently moved to the other locations you list.

    Actual rank held was not very important for the German PoW organisation but status of NCO or Commissioned was so notifications by either London Gazette or Red Cross of appointment to commission were acted upon. For the PoW it meant changes in working conditions and accrued pay.

    As to the file ref is is a partial War Office reference to files created by the Directorate of Prisioners of War that have been subsequently destroyed or split and renumbered in the TNA

    The prefix would have been DPW but this has not been recorded as the file is internal use.

    Usually British PoW were handled by the PW.3 department but as the reference does not contain this and used PW it can be considered a general policy file for all PoWs.

    /44 is the year of creation and /5XXX is a sequential serial for index of file enclosures.

    BR i'm not sure about - it may simply be British, British Red Cross etc

    What it boils down to is a file reference to an index system that has been dispersed.

    Sometimes you can strike lucky and the TNA Discovery links modern TNA documents to Former Reference in Previous Department eg

    http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/C7408362

    so try pot luck combinations into Discovery Advance search.

    Ross
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