D.C.M. (GV1) Sherwood Foresters. A remarkable escaper’s award. captured in Norway 1940, escaped from POW camp eventually walked across Poland and crossed the Russian border where held for many months in prison camps until the German attack on Russia
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SKU: A8313 Category: Awards For Gallantry And Distinguished Service
Distinguished Conduct Medal, (GVI).
Cpl. W. Corkery, Foresters),
D.C.M. London Gazette 4/11/1941:
‘In recognition of distinguished services in the Field.’
William Corkery was taken P.O.W. in the hills north of Lilliehammer, Norway, on 27 April 1940, while serving in the 8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. Taken to Oslo, and thence to Stettin, he was next entrained for a camp at Bromberg in German occupied Poland but, on arrival, refused to join a working party engaged in the preparation of gun ranges. He was removed the following day – 7 July 1940 – to Stalag XXA, Fort 13, at Winuga on the Vistula, where he teamed up with Private H. Doyle of the 5th Gordons.
Of their subsequent escape, M.I. 9 records state:
‘On arrival all our personal belongings were confiscated, we were not interrogated but were registered. No clothing was issued to P./W. We were housed in wooden huts and the food was poor and scarce. Discipline was very strict; our quarters were searched once or twice a week. During our stay in the camp we did not see a Red Cross parcel. All our letters were censored. In spite of everything and of the German effort to convince us that the war was lost for Britain, P./W. never despaired. We were obliged to work and went out daily in parties of ten or twenty under escort of two guards armed with rifles. Roll call was taken before leaving and on return to the Camp. P./W. of Irish extraction were taken away soon after our arrival.
There was no recognised escape organisation amongst P./W., but individuals were constantly scheming and collecting equipment. We stole a map from the guards' canteen and had already acquired a pocket compass. It was impossible to get hold of civilian clothes, this handicap and the lack of money stopped many a man from trying to get away. The Germans had also put up a notice saying that it was useless to escape to Russia, as the Red frontier guards shot at sight. In spite of all this we decided to make a dash for it.
The guards' canteen had a door on the far side opening out of the camp, with a single wire fence beyond to negotiate. At 0430 hours on 3 December we went through the canteen and, when the sentry had just passed, scrambled under and through the fence and so got away. We took the river Vistula as our direction for Russian Occupied Poland and, for the first ten days, avoided meeting anybody. By then our store of food gave out, but on approaching Polish farmers, we were given food and clothing and by degrees guided to Warsaw. Here we got in touch with an organisation which helped us to the frontier at Ostroleica. Here we got through the wire and penetrated five miles beyond before we were arrested by Russians and taken to Lomsa prison for three days, then nine days at Bialostok and thirteen at Minok. At all these places the prisons were filthy and over-crowded, and we were half starved. The other inmates were chiefly Poles of whom the majority were ex-officers. Later we were moved to a prison in Moscow, where conditions were better; this was an internment camp for political prisoners. After a fortnight we were taken, with 140 Frenchmen, to a camp at Smolensk, where we remained from the beginning of February 1941 until the 22 June, when the German attack began. We were then taken to the railway station and were all ready for our journey (rumoured to be Siberia), in cattle trucks under heavy guard, when all British P./W. were suddenly ordered to leave the train. We were taken back to the camp and later to a hotel in Moscow, where we spent eight days on good rations before our release on 8 July to our own Embassy.’
An especially fine award
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