Recapture Stories

Recaptured: 15th March 1945 - Military Ref: unknown.

A.791226 Lt. Hans HAREHEIM (anti-tank)
A.791043 Lt. Werner ZIELASKO
A.957476 Lt. Oswald PRIOR (U-Boat)
A.965959 Lt. Steffi (Gustav) EHLERT (Luftwaffe Pilot)


Seffi Ehlert
PoW Number: 965959
Steffi in 2004 when he returned to Bridgend to feature in the Welsh Great Escape docu/drama.


It was shortly after ten o'clock on the 10th March 1945 when the third escape group, Hans Harzheim and his three comrades, crept through the tunnel into the field beyond the wire. Once outside the camp they made straight for Merthyr Mawr Road (Approximately 1 mile from the camp), where a car was parked as usual (Make: Austin 12. Licence Plate: DTG 688).

An example of an Austin 12

They didn't know it at the time, but it belonged to a doctor, Dr R. Baird Milne. Hans Harzheim and Oswald Prior broke into the the vehicle, but when Harzheim tried to start the car it failed to start. The escape party were concious of making too much noise directly outside the vehicle owner's house. It was at this time that four guards from Island Farm were walking towards the camp. When Harzheim boldly asked them to give a hand they willing told the PoWs to get in the car and gave the vehicle a "push start" and waved the POWs on their way!

With the car started, they drove along the A48 towards Cardiff (Cardiff is the capital of Wales and is about 20 miles from Island Farm). The four men had decided to make for Croydon, where they knew there was a large airport. It was shortly after midnight when they drove down Tumble Hill, with its hazardous bend at the bottom, and past the council houses of Ely at the Western approaches to Cardiff. Hopelessly lost, they decided to take a chance, and using the guise of being Norwegians they decided to ask a man walking along the pavement for directions. The man was a tram driver going home after a late-night shift and, fooled by their guise of being Norwegians, decided that the best way to direct them was to accept a lift to the outskirts of Cardiff where upon, as he got out of the vehicle, he pointed them in the direction of Newport and then the Gloucester road.

Unfortunately, the POWs ran out of petrol in Blakeney near the Forest-of-Dean and the four PoWs had to abandon the car.

Special note from Brett Exton:

Whilst investigating this story, I found 2 conflicting locations for the place where the car was abandoned:

Despite the "Daily Worker" newspaper reporting the escape the next day their reported location was wrong! Taken from a Police report by Inspector John Fitzpatrick, the correct location was indeed Blakeney. Blakeney and Newham-on-Severn are only 4 miles apart using the A48 road which existed in 1945 and are approximately 70 miles from Bridgend.

Because daylight was breaking they decided to hide in a thicket in the middle of a field until nightfall. However a herd of inquisitive cows insisted on following them. They crept out of their hiding place but were spotted by some farm workers. Later that day they were caught near Castle Bromwich, approximately 110 miles from Island Farm.

The four POWs said that they had made the last part of their journey via a goods train. They had not damaged the car and one of the German prisoners even apologised when he heard that it belonged to a doctor and offered to pay for the petrol !

1 = Island Farm PoW Camp.
2 = Blakeney where the stolen car, which ran out of petrol, was abandoned.
3 = Newnham-On-Severn
(incorrectly reported abdandon location)
4 = Castle Bromwich, the location where the four POWs were apprehended.
This distance was covered by hiding away on a goods train

 

19th March 1945

Page 1 of Recapture report by
Inspector John Fitzpatrick

19th March 1945

Page 2 of Recapture report by
Inspector John Fitzpatrick

 

17th March 1945 - 9:30pm - Cwmcyrnach Farm, Glais - Military Ref: unknown

7. A.489235 Lt. Walter DIEHL
19. A.576487 Lt. Rudolf. RODINGER
21. B.22541 Lt. Kurt STERNBUCK

Captured by John Hopkins (farmer, ex - Leicester City footballer and Glamorgan County Police Constable

18th March 1945

PC 126 - T.J Davies account of the recapture

Interview - The German Generals in Glais Elaine Jones (Glais) interviewed by Gwyn Evans (Secretary Friends of Clydach Heritage Centre) on 25 November 2015.

Mrs Jones (née Dunn) was the daughter of the village postmistress in Glais in 1945. She wanted the recording to place on record what happened the night the German officers were brought to Glais Post Office and correct the incorrect accounts in some newspapers of the time. A group of German officers (prisoners of war) broke out of the Island Farm PoW camp near Bridgend. Three of them made their way towards Swansea. They were apprehended/surrendered to John Hopkins on the Drummau mountain above Glais. She tells what they had been eating while on the run, vegetables from the fields, water from streams and even milk direct from the cows' udders. John Hopkins (a Welsh international rugby player) brought them down to the village and left them with Mrs Dunne and her daughters. Mrs Dunne contacted the police. The nearest police station was in Clydach but that was in the County of Glamorgan and Glais was in Swansea Borough, with its own police force. Swansea police arrived some time later with three black marias and took away the Germans. Mrs Dunne and her daughters, and a Miss Gwilliam who lived with the family, were settling down to listen to the Saturday play on the radio when John Hopkins brought the Germans in. They were offered and had tea and biscuits which Mrs Dunne had set out for the family. John Hopkins said that he hoped his brother, who had been shot down over Germany, would have received hospitality if he had met a German family. Later Mrs Dunne received what we would now call 'hate mail' from people claiming she had collaborated with the enemy by feeding them. Mr Dunne took to intercepting mail addressed to his wife. When Mrs Dunne retired they held a party for her in the village and she was well thought of at that time. Mrs Jones names the officers towards the end of the recording. Alvar Liddel was a well known voice on the radio delivering news bulletins throughout the Second World War and afterwards. Mrs Jones died in February 2018. When interviewed she told GE that she was suffering with a terminal cancer. © Friends of Clydach Heritage Centre

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