anzac POW freemen in europe

Introductory Guide / Site Map

F. Narrators

It is a truism that the same event described by various onlookers and participants will yield differing accounts of what actually did happen, while the event itself will affect the individuals involved in different ways. For individuals react in a manner consistent with their own personalities and memory.

Despite the general standing security order that no individual diaries were to be kept, many were, albeit camouflaged by personal codes. Some embryonic memoirs were committed to paper after the war was over - some many years after. Other papers are still being researched by family members.

During the initial stage of research, the Recorder collected as much of this material as he knew about and could gather in. Of those accounts which seemed complete and authentic, he selected five writings which appeared perceptive and typical of many other opinions and memories of being an AIF POW in the Middle East. They were unilaterally given the rank of "narrator" to the Compendium.

In alphabetic order they are:

VX48078 Ronald James Crellin 2/24th Infantry Battalion. Captured May 1, 1941 at Tobruk. Author of "Freedom at Last" (G13).

WX17240 John Edward Faulkes taken POW with the 2/32nd Infantry Battalion on July 17, 1942, near Trig 22 at Ruin Ridge, El Alamein.
Ted is still around, living in Albany, West Australia.

VX40591 Lt Bryan Bray "Barney" Grogan, 2/23rd Infantry Battalion, MID.
Captured in North Africa, he escaped with Captain Jack Kroger from the "Moosburg Express" from which train all of the AIF POW Officers reaching Switzerland escaped. "Captured" again, marrying Margaret Christ in Switzerland, he rejoined his unit in Tarakan.

QX22164 Edgar Augustus Kent, also taken POW with the 2/3rd Anti/Tank Regiment at El Alamein. Until quite recently, a well-known figure racing around on his motor scooter at Yarragon in Victoria.

NX12808 Arthur Gordon "Jim" Kinder 2/13th Infantry Battalion.
Jim Kinder was an early POW from the "Benghazi Handicap" in 1941. He escaped from Ronsecco, one of the work camps of the PG 106 complex at Vercelli. His book "A Long Time" (G2) is a fictionalised version of his fighting in North Africa, his escape to Switzerland, and his time there.

QX5416 James Alexander Wilson of the 2/15th Infantry Battalion was taken POW earlier when his section was surrounded by German tanks on the notorious date - 7 April 1941 - during the withdrawal into what was to become the famous siege of Tobruk.

All five from the Ninth Division, escaped from Italy to Switzerland, an important factor in their selection as narrators for the earlier parts of the Compendium.

While this bias to Ninth Division POW in Switzerland could have been rectified, when research was extended to cover AIF POW of the Sixth Division, captured in Greece or Crete becoming German POW immediately, by making an addition to the original narrators, say by the inclusion of the earlier escapes of VX9534 John Desmond Peck of the 2/7th Infantry Battalion, first taken POW at Spakia in Crete. However, the exploits of John Peck DCM, who as a result of his fourth escape (from the Island of Rhodes) became an Italian held POW had already occupied a great deal of space in the earlier parts of the Compendium, while Part Three, covering the RAAF in Switzerland, already had their own narrators tell that story.

The research emphasis had shifted to assembling the nominal roll of all WWII AIF POW "Free Men" in Europe, a task made urgent by the dedication of the AIF POW Memorial Wall in Ballarat, a task that is still incomplete.

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