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Thread: Prisoner of War capture TWICE Central Mediterranean Forces

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    Default Prisoner of War capture TWICE Central Mediterranean Forces

    I have come across the strange circumstances of an RAF Navigator apparently becoming a prisoner of war on two differing occasions.
    The recently released AIR 81/2884 1940 for Flight Lieutenant N G Birks, Sergeant J P Gillhespy, Sergeant J L Cheyne: missing found safe; aircraft accident, Blenheim T2066, 107 Squadron, 26 August 1940 does not provide much information. It appears they were going to Port Sudan.Later arrived safe 16 September 1940 and commenced service with 14 Squadron.

    Five days later on 21.9.40 the same crew all reported as pow's after attack on Massawa in Blenheim T2061.
    (Bomber Losses ME and Mediterranean p26 advises 21.9.40 -14 Squadron)

    The POW Questionnaire WO/344-119/1 for Gillhespy states Original capture 8.12.43 at Pesara Italy, with 223 Squadron.

    The Navigator John Philip Gillhespy 562127 is the same man in all documents, we do not have any conflict of service numbers or names here only facts and circumstances. Any thoughts on how we appear to have two dates of becoming a pow 21.9.40 and then 8.12.43 both when flying.

    The WO/344 for capture in Italy evidences later movement into German as you would expect.

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    Hi Colin,

    I presume Birks and Gillhespy were liberated at the conclusion of the East African campaign Eritrea/Abyssinia around April 1941. I don't believe any POWs were removed from this theatre of operations.

    Mark

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    Hello Mark. This is interesting information, are you able to add anything further for me in relation to any known documents or other avenues of establishing what took place with pow's in 1941. This must be a rare occurrence of events.

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    Adi Ugri pow camp appears to have held Allied Air Crew but I am having problems in establishing any other camps used by the Italians in the East Africa conflict 1940 1941. I appears that an escape committee operated at Adi Ugri and a lengthy escape tunnel was dug but not used. Can anyone throw any light on this subject at all....thank you.

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    Colin,

    Reel 5 has some information on Adi Ugri.

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80004362

    Dave

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    Thank you for that information the distance between capture and imprisonment if the crew were taken to Adi Ugri was just on 100 miles. I think this adds some possibility to the thoughts of this being the pow camp for that area of conflict. That said the oral history notes advise that Adi Ugri camp held only 150 British men but this was a smaller area of conflict.....Thanks again.

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