British POWs in Soviet GULAG



DozyBint said:
benjaminw1 said:
I am suprised that nobody has mentioned Anne Applebaum's history "Gulag"
Erm, I did, on page 1 of this thread! My copy is in storage back in the UK, so I couldn't quote from it.
Sorry ma'am! I scooted in from the original thread elsewhere on Arrrse!

My abject apologies!
Apologies for the necro-posting but I found this old thread when I was searching for something else, I can name you a few.....

937633 Warrant Officer Reginald Harry Barratt RAF who was a Wireless Op/Air Gunner taken prisoner on 9 June 1941 when Wellington Bomber R1758 (Wing Commander RGC Arnold) was shot down on an anti shipping strike.

He was held at Stalag 357 (Prisoner No. 18299), Barratt escaped and was in an area "liberated" on 24 Dec 1944 by the Russians. Files at the National Archives (inc. Air 20/2336) record Soviet confirmation that he was safe in Russian hands (Official British Cipher telegram Mil.2709 dated 29 March 1945). Returning Dutch airmen, former POWs, reported meeting him and that he was in good health.

The Government (Air Ministry) sent a telegram to his wife in Leicester 8 June 1945 confirming "Information received from Moscow that your husband 937633 W/O RH Barratt is now safe in Russian Hands".

He never got home, the Government stopped enquiring after him and his name was added to the Runnymede Memorial to those airmen lost and had no grave, date of death 4 June 1945.

Baron Nikolaus von Maasburg who returned to Germany from Russian imprisonment met Barratt at a prison at Ivanka near Bratislava (early 1946) and later at Czcklis Castle. On his return he contacted Mrs Barratt trying to regain contact with his former friend and was shocked to find that he had not made it home.

Reginal Barratt is an example of one of our lads left behind.

I wrote to my MP in 1997 and received a less than clear reply confirming that attempts had been made to get Reginald Barratt released "in early 1946 at an Ambassadorial level and finally in early 1947 when the Foreign Secretary made a personal appeal to te Soviet Foreign Minister".

A few other examples are 614115 Warrant Officer Reginal Alfred Brown RAF from Bennington in Herts, rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, taken prisoner after being shot down 25/26 June 1942, held as POW No. 311 at Stalag Luft 6, fell into Russian hands after "liberation" and never seen again.

Flying Officer Percy Bruce Crosswell (J/88362) RCAF was a gunner aboard a Lancaster shot down 23 April 1944 and taken prisoner. He was Prisoner No.655 at Stalag Luft 7, he disappeared after "liberation" when he fell into Russian hands.

I have also managed to ID about half of the victims of a massacre of former British & Commonwealth POW's on 10 March 1945 near Cracow/Poland when the Soviet Army didnt know what to do with these men, they apparently killed them.
Fascinating post Pete Cov. And I like the term "necro post".

I propose to continue this discussion in a soft, academic manner.

I could not regard as a proof of your point any personal remarks toward me. So it would be a waste of time from your side to repeat them.

Let's define our positions.

1. I guess that there were no British (British citizen) POWs in Soviet GULAG. As maximum, there could be one, two or few exceptions. What do you think about it?

2. Concrete names. I don't know even one name of British POW who was imprisoned in Soviet GULAG (with birthplace, rank, regiment and so on). Are you aware about it?

3. Has British Parliament discussed the theme about British POWs in Soviet GULAG? I tried to find and failed. If the theme was not discussed then why? What is your opinion?
How about the case of 5437631 Private Berry R , DCM.

He had been taken prisoner by the Germans in May 1940.

The citation for his DCM says that he and Privale Bllom of the East Kents had swam across the river San to Sviet territory near Przemyl in March 1941. He was held in prison there by the Soviets. After 22 June, he and other prisoners were marched East to Sambor where he was told by Polish prisoners that there were corporals Jowell and Stanley and Private Bloom were also being held. From Sambor he was transported to Zioatourst in the Urals along watery Russian,Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian prisoners on a 21 day rail journey in wagons with 62 to a wagon living on bread and water. He was in Ziatousk from 17 July 1941 to 4 March 1942.

During that time the prisoners had no blankets and slept on the stone floor. The food consisted of 450 grams of bread a day and 1 litre of soup per day. Exercise lasted 20 minutes a day.... Most of the time I was in solitary confinement.

On 4 March I was put on a train to Chelybinsk, a journey of a day. On arrival I was put in a cell with 300 men. As the cell was too small to accommodate that number, platforms had been erected round the walls for -prisoners to live on. Every day when new arrivals were put in, there were fights for accommodation among prisoners, and I saw several of them killed. At one time I was sick. I got no medial attention but the other prisoners stole my food.

About the middle of June, I was questioned by a Russian who spoke English. I asked for the British Embassy and was told it "cut no ice" there. I lost my temper and called the Russian a few names. I was taken back to my cell. There I was beaten up by two soldiers. I was taken to Kuibyshev by train . I was kept there until 23 August 1942, when I was put in a motor car and and driven about for five minutes. The Russians then put me out of the car and pointed out the British Embassy. The British Embassy told me that had been expecting me. I gathered that they had first heard about me in March 1942 when a Pole freed by the Russians had told them that there was a British Soldier imprisoned in Zlatoust.
London Gazette 7 January 1943
A Ukranian collegue of mine at work hates the Soviets with a vengence. The KGB killed both of his grandfathers.

The Soviets and their supporters were and remain an evil bunch of bastards with only one saving grace. They helped destroy their equally evil Nazi enemy.
"I - and others like me - are quite simply wasting our time."

Yes we are.
I do wonder why we bite at NKVD man's Posts.

We must be masochists.
I'll have to get reading, his book 'The history of the SS cricket team' sounds fascinating!

As to POWs in USSR, I've also heard that over 20,000 US POWs were kept by the russians after the war. No idea if it's true or not, but if true it's a wonder WW3 didn't kick off straight away!
Hi there, my friend has directed me to this site as I am just starting to research my Grandfathers war records. I was told by my father before he died that my grandfather was detained by the Russians when his POW camp was 'liberated'. From the research so far it appears that he was held by the Russians for 'collaboration'. He became an interpretor during his time in captivity and this may have led to his further detention with the Russians. The irony being when he was eventually released and finally made it back to Liverpool, his missus, my grandmother believed he was MIA, and had started a new relationship. The poor bugger came back to the UK to have his door opened by another man. I can't imagine how he felt right at that moment. He eventually rejoined the army went back to Germany and married the camp commandants daughter, Garda, and they lived happily together untilltheir deaths. There are so many gaps in this story I am trying to fill in, as I honestly beleived it was a fairytale rather than reality.


Book Reviewer
#32 is the official history of 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars 1929-1945, a free PDF download from the Light Dragoons website

APPENDIX H is Escape. A Story by TSM G. S. Briggs, 1940-1941. It starts with the debacle east of the River Escaut on 18 May 1940 when the regiment was essentially destroyed trying to defend an open flank to which the Belgians had failed to fall back and 15/19H became an early victim of Blitzkrieg.

Troop Sergeant Major (WO3) Briggs is captured and finds himself in a POW camp in occupied Poland. The system is not yet up, running and efficient and he finds it easy enough to escape. After making contact with the locals, they shuttle him over the border into Russia and notify the British Consulate that he is in Russia. The Russians bang him up in a POW camp. A number of other Britons are in the same position.

It is only when Barbarossa kicks off and technically UK and USSR are Allies that TSM Briggs's demands to speak to the British Embassy are met (p305):

From here we went to a Russian hotel in Moscow. It was a good hotel, but we were still under guard. Here we remained for a week, and we decided to go on a hunger strike if we were not allowed to get in touch with our Consulate now that we were
Russia's allies. The authorities were very upset, made a great fuss of us, and endeavoured to get us to eat. They promised at the same time that a Russian official should come to see us in the afternoon. This gentleman put in an appearance and said that everything would be all right. Shortly after this one of our number was looking out of the window of our room and could not believe his eyes when he saw four taxis flying the Union Jack arrive at the door of the hotel. Two Colonels of the British Army stepped out. When our fellow prisoner excitedly gave us this news, we told him we could not believe it. However, just then the Colonels, who came from the British Embassy in Moscow, came into our room and said, 'Hullo, you fellows. Congratulations, and how would you like an English cigarette?' It was hard to believe that they were really there.

One of the officers asked if Sergeant Major Briggs was present. I replied, 'Here, sir,' and he told me that he had heard a lot about me. They had received a telegram stating that I had passed the Russo-German frontier on a certain date and they had been trying for the last three months to get news of me. At the time the Colonel heard I was in Russia I had been in prison six months. He told me that they had pressed for information and the Russians had denied that I was in the country until the date of the German aggression. Even then they denied that I was in their country until after the Anglo-Russian pact was signed. One afternoon shortly afterwards the Russians phoned the Embassy that they had found Sergeant Major Briggs and thirteen other prisoners. The first action of the Embassy was to inform our next-of-kin that we were all safe, and this was the first occasion on which our people had heard from us since our escape from Germany.

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