- Contributed by
- People in story:
- James Stonley
- Location of story:
- Bad Sulza, Frankfurt
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 May 2005
James Stonley (on left) and friend Stalag IXc
James Stonley enlisted in the DLI on 6th June 1939 and trained at Seaburn and South Shields. He was sent to France with British expeditionary Force in January 1940.
Only four survived from the battalion and he was captured at Arras before Dunkirk in April 1940.
His mother received two telegrams - first one saying "missing believed dead" then 10 weeks later anohter one saying "prisoner".
He was marched from France to Belgium and then put on a goods train to Poland where he almost died of starvationin the first camp. He was then transferred to Stalag IXc, Bad Sulza near Frankfurt, where he was put to work in a salt mine.
They were released from the POW camp by Americans who thought they were Russian.They were told to stay in the camp as there were still German forces behind. They ignored this advice and made their own way back to England.
James and his friend took a motor bike and drove west towards the Ruhr. They were stopped by an American checkpoint and helped them for a while to pick out SS members from supposed refugees ( marks of tattoo on arm of lightning gave them away).
They then made their way to an airport where they boarded a Dakota supposedly bound for Paris but ere actually brought to England. They were driven to another camp to be deloused and bathed. A meal was put before them which most of them couldn't eat because their stomachs had shrunken. They were issued with new uniforms, pay and train tickets and sent on extended leave.
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