- Contributed by
- People in story:
- John G. Munro
- Location of story:
- France, Germany, Poland
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 April 2004
Seaforth Highlander - P.O.W Diary
John Munro - War Diary
My father passed away a number of years ago after which my mother gave me a small red note book he had kept during his war time experiences.
I have copied his journal below, not to sure all the place names are spelt correctly, and have followed the style in which it was originally written. As you will see it is more a list of the towns and places he stayed in or passed through. Some of the comments are very succinct but have a great depth of feeling in them.
As with many POW's my father very seldom mentioned his experiences in Poland other than they were very difficult and he hated the forced labour in the coal mine.
My father joined the Territorial Army in 1937.
He was called up on the Second of September 1939 at the age of 18.
He joined the Seaforth Highlanders.
"J. Munro P.O.W Nr 12644 — Stalag 344
Sept 2nd- Joined company at Grantown on Spey.
Sept 4th- Formed battalion at Elgin.
Sept- Moved to Aldershot with 51st Highland division.
Dec- Brigade moved from Aldershot to Borden.
Dec 28th- Left Borden for home, ten days leaves.
Jan 6th- Arrived in Borden back off leave.
Jan- Left Borden for Southampton en-route for France. Arrived in Le Havre. Left Le Havre Same day and arrived at Bolbec . Billeted in village called Frouville.
Feb-Arrived in Lillers. From Lillers to Dowrim a village just outside Le Bassee.
March- Arrived at Roubaux, after short stay, returned to Dowrim. Visited Vimy Ridge. Transferred to 17th infantry Brigade at Halluim on the Belgium border. Transferred from battalion to brigade ‘anti tank coy’.
April- Fort nights course on Hotchkiss A/T gun.
April 29th- left Hallium arrived at Amiens.
May 1st- Left Amien arrived at Bolbec .
May 5th- Celebrate my 19th birthday , dinner and champagne.
May 6th- Arrive at Le Havre Load MT transport on ship for Norway.
May 7th- Unload transport and stand by.
May 9th- Arrive in Amien again .
May 11th- Enter Belgium travel all night.
May 12th- Brussels beautiful town. Push on to the Albert Canal, cross canal rearguard action for Coldsream Guards. Withdraw to position on canal, heavy fighting. Thirty six hour artillery barrage.
May 18th- withdraw through Belgium arrive at Lens.
May 19th- Attack Vimy. Reach top of ridge.
May 20th- Advance today, heavy casualties.
May 21st- Expect French army. No sign of them.
May 22nd- Total advance 15 Kilo’s. Very heavy loses, knock out two tanks.
May 23rd- Still no French army. begin to withdraw, Gun and truck blown up.
May 24th- arrive in what was Petit Vimy. Coy H.Q. gone. Get lift to Garvin.
May 25th- Arrived Seclin. find brigade HQ. Brigade formed into one battalion. three anti tank guns left.
May 26th- Reach Yepres. in action again .
May 27th- Heavy fighting lose three men. Hit with shrapnel in hip and back, but not badly , orders to withdraw but trucks wrecked by shell fire. Spike the guns , go on foot , take up position with N.H. in farm yard.
May 28th- Belgium’s capitulated road to Popering cut. Ambulance tries to get away, but is machine gunned. No chance of getting through. 8a.m M.G. fire from all sides, think we’ve had it. 11a.m Captain Melson N.H surrenders. Marched back through German lines stop in village for rest and water. Interrogated . March all night.
May29th- Arrive in Courtraix
May 30th- Arrive Ronce leave column go into hospital
June- Reach Nivelles. Put on train. Seventy four put into our wagon. Travel through Holland arrive in Meppen Germany .
June- Leave Meppen for Eastern Germany Berlin, Breslone , Lamsdorf.
July- In Stalag V 111 B place crawling with lice.
July 26th- Leave Lamsdorf with 100 men on working party. Reach Beuthen then on to Mechtal get to billets at coalmine .
Sept- Injure hand in pit. Go to hospital at Scharli Poland. Six weeks in hospital.
Dec 26th- First RX (Red Cross) parcel.
March- smashed thumb in pit six weeks of work.
Nov- Left to hospital with bad throat ten days rest.
April- Run out of Red Cross supplies, things pretty tough, no rackets.
July- Escape. Recaptured. Bunker. back to work.
Sept- Leave Mechtal go to coal mine at Gleiwity.
Still in coal mine , must get away, eat soap but still get marked fit.
Feb- Go sick with chest . Get Stalag.
Feb 15th- Arrive Lamsdorf. meet Ernie
May 19th- Leave Lamsdorf for Jroppau railway party job all right .
Sept- Sent to Oderburg via M. Ostrau to clear up after bombing raid . No work done so we are sent home again. Five Kiwis killed in raid .
Mar 7th- leave Jroppau for Bennisch ten inches of snow. 25 kilometers .
Mar 8th- leave Bennisch arrive Freudenthal
Mar 9th- Freudenthal to Romerstadl 23 kilometers.
Mar 10th- Rest
Mar 12th- Arrive at D. Liebau
Mar 14th- Arrive at Triebity to work on railway, billets crawling with bugs refuse to work.
Mar 18th- Jattenity work in sawmill
April 8th arrive Hohenstadt go on to Gr Heilendorf. No work.
May 6th — Russian troops 16 Kilometres away. Escape meet partisans escorted to Brunles by P’s .
May 7th- 2p.m. battle begins. 6p.m. Drinking to victory with Russian Officer. Celebrate my release with the Russians. Get pretty tight.
May 8th- Gr Heilendorf taken , boys get through all right .
May 9th- Left Brinles for home , reach leznity .
May 10th —Left Leznity get lift in Russian truck through Sternburg to Troppau. Visit some Checkish friends in Gilsevity as a free man. Get a great reception.
May 11th- Leave Troppau by lorry go through Ratibor, Rybonik, spend the night in Kattowity
May 12th- Leave by train for Bielsko arrive Bielsko walk to Bysky billeted in sanitorum .
Waiting transport for home.
May 26th- Left Bystra to get train at Bielity . Pouring rain.
May 27th- Leave Bielity by train reach Diedly .
May 28th- Octerberg, M.Ostrau very slow train .
May 29th- Leave M. Ostrau for Prague pretty fast train , reach Olmuty
May 30th- Still going M. Tribau Zwittau. Should reach Prague to night . Arrive Prague.
May 31st — Left Prague. Met the Yanks at Rokycany outside Pilsen. Very pleased to see them. In camp at Pilsen with the Yanks. Plenty good cigs and food. Saw a film tonight. First time in five years.
June 2nd — Left Pilsen airport at 10.45 am in a B 34. Arrived at Riems 1.30pm. Good trip.
June 3rd — Left Riems at 1.30 pm in Lancaster, arrived Guildford 2.50 pm.
June 4th — Outfitted at Worthing, left for home."
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.