30 paź 2016

Prisoners of War who died in German POW camps (Stalag XXI-B, Oflag XXI-B and Oflag 64) at Szubin

At the eastern part of the Szubin cemetery, there is section of 5 graves of Polish Army soldiers, but during the WWII there were more graves in this part. It is the part of the cemetery in which Prisoners of War who died or were killed in German POW camps at Szubin were buried. According to the eyewitness reports, especially at the beginning of war (in Stalag XXI-B) the German guards were prone to violence and brutality. Many of POWs were killed or tortured to death in the camp. Prisoners also died of hunger and associated illnesses. There was also insufficient drugs available in the camp hospital to provide basic care.

At the Szubin cemetery there are buried the Polish Prisoner of War as follows:
  • 2nd Lt Józef Suplicki, soldier in the 1939 Defensive War, born on 10th March 1914.
    On 1st September 1939 he was severely wounded during the patrol and immediately transported to Szubin hospital for urgent surgery, after which he has died and was buried at the crypt under the floor of the St Margaret's Church.
  • 2nd Lt Wincenty Górski, soldier in the 1939 Defensive War, born on 2nd September 1899.
    He was killed fighting in Szubin on 20th September 1939.
  • Piotr Błachota, soldier in the 1939 Defensive War, date of birth unknown.
    Died on 21st March 1940 as a result of torture.
  • Jan Romańczuk, soldier in the 1939 Defensive War, Prisoner of War, date of birth unknown.
    Died on 30th June 1945 during military service.
  • unknown, soldier in the 1939 Defensive War, Prisoner of War.
  • Jan Kowalski, soldier in the 1939 Defensive War, Prisoner of War, born on 6th February 1914.
    Died on 30th April 1940 as a result of torture.

Memorial plaque dedicated to 2nd Lt Józef Suplicki unveiled in 1982.

Graves of Polish soldiers at the Szubin cemetery, photograph taken on 1st November 2015.

    Graves of Polish soldiers – since September 2016 marked with new tombstones.

    According to "Anglosasi nie jesteście Aryjczykami" [Anglo-Saxons, you aren’t Aryans] book by Jacek Wilczur, only few names of French POWs who died or were killed in Szubin were identified after the war: “The Szubin Land became the grave for the French POWs, quite early, in fact in 1940. Germans used to place bodies of POWs to common graves and attempted to destroy anything which would help to identify the deceased in the future”. Among other French POWs who died in the prisoner of war camp and were buried at the Szubin cemetery were:
    • Capt. Hector Delsalle, born on 24th November 1889 – died on 16th December 1940.
    • 1st Lt Marcel Guerlet, born on 15th December 1896 – died on 1st April 1941.
    • Major Jacques Blanc, born on 14th May 1891 – died on 11th March 1942.
    According to documents presented below, the graves of the abovementioned three French POWs remained in Szubin until 1948. It is not known where the tombs were transported. It might be that they were unearthed and buried at the French Military Cemetery at Gdansk, where there are more than 1500 graves of soldiers, including graves of deceased in various German POW camps located in Poland, but only 30% of all graves have names of deceased persons - the remaining graves are nameless.

    Archival materials from Bydgoszcz State Archives.

    Also British POWs were dying in the Szubin camp. The number of deceased is however difficult to assess precisely. According to the former POW of Stalag XXI-B, Pte. J. D. Chew (held in Szubin between 12th June 1940 and 4th January 1941) "25 of our deceased chums were buried at the cemetery outside the village of Schubin".

    Archival materials from Bydgoszcz State Archives.

    As shown from the archival materials above,after the war only thirteen British POWs were identified among those buried at the Szubin cemetery:
    • Gunner Bertram Gilbert Hawkins, born on 13th July 1918 – died on 23rd July 1940.
    • Edgar Watkin, born on 11th November 1904 – died on 23rd July 1940.
    • Pte Edward Teodor Lane, born on 13th October 1917 – died on 2nd August 1940.
    • Pte Frank Leonard Cooper, born on 1st July 1919 – died on 5th  August 1940.
    • Pte Stanley Reginald Provett, born on 24th August 1919 – died on 29th August 1940.
    • Pte Horace Randall, born on 18th October 1918 – died on 3rd September 1940.
    • Pte Fransois Perron, born on 14th September 1899 – died on 23th September 1940.
    • Pte Michael Joseph Mullarkey, born on 13th February 1916 – died on 11th October 1940.
    • Pte Peter Duncan, born on 5th October 1920 – died on 17th October 1940.
    • Pte Rupert John Geary, born on 31th August 1916 – died on 3rd March 1941.
    • Pte Alvin Nettleton, born on 19th June 1919 – died on 7th November 1941.
    • Fl/Lt. Robert Howard Edwards, born on 22nd October 1909 – died on 26th September 1942.
      Just after breakfast on the 26th September 1942, he announced that he was fed up being held, lit up a cigarette, walked to the wire and started to climb over - he was shot at the point black range after a challenge from a German guard, he died later that day. 
    • Flying Officer Peter Anthony Lovegrove, born on 3rd March 1920 – died on 12th November 1942.
      "He Fell off the top of the big white house, used as a hospital and crashed to his death three storeys below on the concrete path at the entrance".
    After the war, all bodies of the British POWs were disinterred and then moved to the Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery.

    Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery.

    Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery: gravestones of British POWs who died in German POW camp at Szubin and were primarily buried at the Szubin cemetery and after the war were moved to Poznan.

    At the same cemetery there are also tombstones of some airmen, who were executed in March 1944 after the "Great Escape" from Stalag Luft III (Sagan). Three amongst them:
    • Squadron Leader Roger Joyce Bushell,
    • Squadron Leader Ian Kingston Pembroke Cross,
    • Flying Officer Stanisław Zygmunt "Danny" Król,
    were also Prisoners of war held in Oflag XXI-B at Szubin and tunnelled out the camp on night 5th/6th March 1943.

    Gravestones of three of "The Fifty" Allied airmen executed after the "Great Escape", who were held on Oflag XXI-B at Szubin.

    The only American POW of Oflag 64, who died in the camp was Captain Richard Hurley Torrence Jr., born on 6th July 1918. He died of heart attack on 10th January 1944 and was buried at the Szubin cemetery.

    POWs of Oflag 64 pay a tribute to Captain Richard Hurley Torrence Jr. during a graveside service at the Szubin cemetery, photograph taken from "Home Was Never Like This" book.

    After the war his body was laid to rest at Waco Memorial Park, Waco, McLennan County, Texas, USA.


    © Mariusz Winiecki

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