Friday, 6 May 2016
Uncle Cyril Orwin - Prisoner of War
After being captured and interogated Cyril was held as a prisoner of war in Stalag luft VII here follows some information about this camp.
"Stalag Luft 7 was a World War II German Army prisoner-of-war camp that was opened in 1944 in Luckenwaalde, near Bankau. (today BÄ…ków) 6 kilometers from Kreuzburg ( today Kluczbork) north of Opole in Silesia Germany (today Poland). Originally in 1 July 1944, the camp held 230 prisoners, all RAF flying crews until they were joined by members of the Glider Pilot Regiment captured at the Battle of Arnhem, (Holland) September 1944 from other camps further east, and by 1 January 1945, the camp held 1578: a mix of British, Americans, Russian, Polish and Canadian troops. On January 19, 1945, 1,500 prisoners marched out of camp in bitter cold. They crossed a bridge over the river Oder on 21 January, reached Goldberg on 5 February and loaded onto train. On 8 February they reached Stalag III-A which already held 20,000 prisoners, mainly soldiers from Britain, the U.S. and Russia."
Many years ago I read Cyril's log book which he kept during this time, I remember him writing about the forced march in the winter and how many men had sold their boots to get food. Unfortunately Cyril's log book is no longer in the family but is with his second wife but I have an excerpt here from one of his fellow prisoners, who also made the drawing of Cyril in my previous post.
"Excerpt from the Diary of fellow POW Edward Milligan -
Mon 9th April 1945
Very dull morning, air activity in night. Held meeting of sketch group, five present. Do work on structures. Get hair cut in new barbers’ shop. Lovely weather later in day, not so cold as yesterday. Had queer dream last night, in one, dreamt that we were relieved by USA tanks, in the other by Russian. Rumour that new Russian offensive on Berlin was started, hope that it is true. Planned a trip for after the war with Bill Orwin a Tempest pilot, to go to Ripon and Fountains Abbey whilst we are on leave. Post up notice for gramophone concerts on Monday and Friday evenings at 7:30. Must visit a few of the old pubs in Hull, architecture and the beer sound interesting. Gave gramophone concert, crowded house! Many turned away, played my Egmont overture, quite pleased with the success of the whole show. Rumours circulating that the officers are moving to Munich on Wednesday and that we are leaving on Friday, hope that it is not true, don’t fancy another long journey under such conditions."
I copied the following poem out of his log book, I don't know who wrote it, whether he wrote it him self, or a fellow prisoner, or whether it is a known poem.
To the undying memory of the fighter pilots who fell in the Battle of Britain - September 1940
Where fly you now, you rich young blood
where drones your phantom plane
fly you in some ethereal sky
dice you with death again?
With throttle wide streak you accross
some ghost, unchartered land
or fly you in the old patrols
are all your journeys planned.
Raise you your hand in last salute,
to gallant foes who fall.
or in Valhall meet you them
old battles to recall?
Your blood was hot, your brain was ice
the cost you knew full well,
as earthwards, downwards screaming went
your burning, turning hell.
Yes you were old, tho'young in years,
from life it's treasure stole
you gripped the cup, with hand aloft
one draught, you gauffed the whole.
While we who live, still trudge the earth.
proud son, you knew your end
you "lived" your life, you silver wings
that broke, yet would not bend.
In words of one, who, grim and stern,
heads ENGLAND come what may.
Thro' sweat, thro' tears, thro' blood, aye death
unto a brighter day.
Fly on oh youth in clear blue skies,
in you, our hopes renew
for never did so many owe,
so much, unto so few.