BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Prisoners of War

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Sgt Kirk Sgt Richardson Sgt McIntyre Sgt Clapham
Location of story: 
Germany Poland
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 September 2005

The man himself

Sgt H Kirk left England on a night time flying mission on September 15th 1941. His plane was shot down over Hamburg at 22.00 hours. He was captured and taken to Dulag-Luft on 17th September and from there transported to Stalag 8B on September 20th.
Sgt Kirk was not content with being a prisoner of war and did try to escape many times. Once successful escape was on 10th July 1943 but unfortunately he was quickly re-captured the following day and was returned to Stalag 8B.
A cigarette case belonging to Sgt Kirk was found years later by his daughter, after the death of her mother. Inside was a hand carved inscription, it is not known what he used to do this with but his intention was clearly to identify himself and his crew should anything happen to any of them. The inscription is as follows:
Sgt Richardson, K (P)
Sgt McIntyre, J (OBS)
Sgt Clapham, HD (WO)
Sgt Kirk, H (WO/RG)

P=Pilot, OBS= Observer, WO= Wireless Operator, RG= Rear Gunner.

Towards the end of the war with the fear of allied troops arriving the prisoners were sent on a forced march from Germany to Poland known as the Lambsdorf March.Many people did not survive this march.
At the end of each day the prisoners were chained to fences or whatever was at hand to try to stop them escaping. They fashioned lock picks or skeleton keys from sardine tins and one used by Sgt Kirk was among his belongins found after he passed away in 1996. While tracing his history and wanting to find out more about her fathers escapades during the war his daughter visited the Imperial War Museum and in conversation with someone there the subject of the lockpicks came up and you can imagine their delight when she donated this to the museum.
One of the most amazing things in a whole list of amazing things which happened to Sgt Kirk was that throughout his ordeal of the march he was able to keep a daily diary without being found out. The following is a transcription taken from the original. There are a few places where it was difficult to read as Sgt Kirk had only the smallest stub of a pencil, hidden in his mouth, with which to write.

February 28th Wednesday
Left Weisswasser for Hayerswerda. Stopped at Spreefurt overnight, slept in barn 28k covered first day.

March 1st Thursday
West Munch Gladbach falls. Left Spreefurt 7am for Hayerswerda. Marched 30km arrived 6pm in Stalag 4D

Friday 2nd
Stayed in Stalag. Met French officers - spoke excellent english - sold clothing for cigs.

Saturday 3rd
In stalag. Met a few RAF boys - no news of Vic - from Lamsdorf. rumours of marching again.

Sunday 4th
In stalag More rumours of march - no wagons allowed. Neuss fallen in west Russians taken Koslin & reach Baltic.

Monday 5th
In stalag Xanton Eischinhem Schleiden fallen. Reds take by storm - Stangrad - Naugrad_ Dobym - Adm Scheer damaged by Red air force - towed away.

Tuesday 6th
in stalag- went down to barracks in afternoon to repaire radio set. Rcd 10 Drava cigs and piece of bread Koln fallen
Grand.... by Russians

Wednesday 7th
Left Hayerswerda marched 16km to Bernsdorf - slept in wooden barracks in forest, very good quarters. Koln - Koblenz - Trie 60,000 germans cut off - 80,000 surre'(surrendered?)

thursday 8th
Left Bernsdorf marched 27km to Koningsbruck. Slept in horse stables received 1/2 litre watery soup. Americans cross Rhine by Remagen/Sudendorf Bridge.

Friday 9th
Remained at Koninsbruche whole day amongst the straw. americans capture Rhine fortress of Erpel. fighting in Unhel(?) Bonn Basenheim

Saturday 10th
Left Koningsbruch marched 16km crossed Dresden autobahn 14.30 hrs arrived at place called Radeburg. Slept in hay barn no water, fire, food & smokes & raining into the bargain.

Sunday 11th
Arrived after 18km march at place 2km east of Meissen. East of Elbe. slept in barracks amongst Russian and French POW's. Right Rhine bank cleared. 21,000 germans surred(surrendered?)

Monday 12th
Rest day Groben 2km east of Meissen. Rcd 1500 grms bread for today and next 2 days. Pontoon bridge over Rhine- Remagen

Tuesday 13th
US tanks push to Koln.Passed through Meissen - crossed river Elbe marched 18km arrived at LOTMARTZSCH sleeping quarters in straw barn800lbs apples stolen by boys - paid 240 RM

Wednesday 14th
Left LOTMARZSCH marched 20km arrived Dobeln 4pm rec hot soup slept in gym rec 1/2 litre barley soup - very good carried extra 4 kit bags for the Vaughn boys?

Thursday 15th
Rest day - sun shining single crossing Elbe Country very picturesque but very hilly - hard going.

Friday 16th
Left Dobeln marched 27km in good weather arrived Rochlitz 5pm slept in machine factory two air-raids night and day 28 raids during first 14 days in this town.

Saturday 17th
Left Rochlitz this morning in what we hope is last leg of march to Altenbg 13th day of march. Marched 28km arrived Monsa slept in barnyard heavy air attack whilst on march 3AA shells landed nearby.
marg. sausage. bread

Sunday 18th
Fine day Left Monsa & turned rightpast Altenburg - marched 18km arrived at Zipendorf slept in shed near a factory. Air raids x2 shots fired words with major(?)

Monday 19th
Left Zipendorf many bomb craters and damage - number of factories damaged. Air raid smoke screen put up. arrived Zeit evening - no place to sleep- spent night in open cart with tom & Ted - marched 12km.

Tuesday 20th
Rest day today - all day spent in Zeit no rations until tonight no fires allowed. 21st day on the march 262 km covered.

Wednesday 21st
Left army camp at Zeit rec bread barley meat air raids day & night very strict on fires. arrived after 14 km at Kleinhaughsdorf.

Thursday 22nd
Left Kleinhaughsdorf marched 25km arrived at Steudnitz after full days march in the sun. Still 15km to do - slept out in the open.

Friday 23rd
Rest day - out in open 301 km covered up to date. Slept in open again.

Saturday 24th
Left Steudnitz good weather, not going to stalag 9C marched 35 km bypassed Jena 7km to left. arrived at Mellingen received soup bread sausage slept in small barn 80 men.

Sunday 25th
Left Mellingen - marched 29km in summer weather - passed Weimar 1km to right arrived at Busleben - slept in barn 100 men went out last night nothing doing.

Monday 26th
Upon leaving Busleben received 1/5 of bread. marched 28km to point 4km east of Gotha. 100 men slept in barn someone pinched sack of spuds. passed through Erfurt very badly bombed.

Tuesday 27th
Rest day but no fires spuds being cooked by farmers wife. 28th day on march 365 km covered.

Wednesday 28th

Thursday 29th

Friday 30th

Saturday 31st
Turned about re-crossed river saw our fighters attacking.

Sunday 1st

Monday 2nd
First day in hiding patrol near us about 8pm heavy machine gun fire Gerry pulling out fast.

Tuesday 3rd
This morning mg fire north and south of us Gerry still pulling out.

Wednesday 4th
Today we are set free. American units passed through the village Picked us up and went onto Gotha.

Thursday 5th
Transport back from Gotha

Friday 6th - Wednesday 11th - no entries in diary

Thursday 12th
Reached Brussels 45 days after leaving Weisswasser 6 1/2 weeks 2,000 km

Friday 13th
Flying back home from Brussels today

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - This is my father

Posted on: 08 October 2005 by DebbieVKirk

I would love to hear from any one who finds this entry intersesting. I have the original diary which my father wrote on the Death March and I know some photos from Stalag V111B which found their way back to the U.K. are being posted on this web site at a future date. I can be contacted through

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Prisoners of War Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy