I'm reasearching the old boys on my school roll of honour and came across this piece in a local newspaper published in 1943. This chap is the brother of a boy on our roll of honour... a sad post script is that their father was killed in WW1. Hope you find it interesting... _____________________ Repatriated from Italy Sergt. H. P. Macdonalds adventures The first Woking prisoner of war to arrive home from Italy under the repatriation scheme is Sergt. Harvey Paul Macdonald, RAMC, son of Mrs Macdonald, Walnut Tree Cottage, Kingfield. He reached home on Easter Monday, a few days after the third anniversary of his wedding. He is now enjoying 28 days leave, and his wife who works locally, is having a short holiday. They were married at Folkestone three years ago. ‘I still feel a little bewildered at being back in England’ he told a ‘News and Mail’ reporter. Sergt. Macdonald who is 27, was born in Woking, and is an old County School boy. After serving four years apprenticeship at Boots, Chemists, Woking he became assistant relieving officer at Sharrard House, Woking. He joined up a few days after war broke out and was sent to Egypt in December 1940. Four months later he was taken prisoner by the Germans at Fort Mechili. After 3 ½ months travelling and in transit camps, including an exciting journey in the hold of a ship while the RAF flew overhead, the prisoners reached their camp at Sulmona, near Rome. The first six months, Sergt. Macdonald told our reporter, were very dull but afterwards they began to settle down. Letters and parcels from home began to arrive regularly, and the prisoners began to organise things. They formed a library and study books were sent out from home. They also arranged sports, lectures and games. The guards did not interfere very much, and Sergt. Macdonald spent much of his time in private study. He was on the committee of the camps dramatic society, which just before Christmas last year produced Priestley’s ‘I’ve Been Here Before’. In which he acted. The dramatic society was very strong and had many enthusiastic members. There was also a debating society to which Sergt. Macdonald belonged. Sports included ‘passball’ an American variety of netball, but much more exciting. ‘As first aid officer’, said Sergt. Macdonald, ‘I always had to deal with cuts and gashes after this game’. The prisoners built their own football ground by excavating and levelling rough ground. This took them over a year, but no-one regretted the trouble. International matches between Australian, Canadian, Irish, Scots, South African, US and English teams were played each Saturday. The camp was set on the side of a mountain amid wonderful scenery. In spring the valley was filled with blossoms and the mountains were capped with snow. It was apparently a very healthy spot, for there was very little illness. Food was very short in Italy, but the Italians did not grudge giving the prisoners what they had. Sergt. Macdonald paid a great tribute to the Red Cross. ‘They were marvellous’, he said, ‘You can’t appreciate how much they do for the prisoners. The parcels containing food and toilet articles are so welcome. The Red Cross really make life worth living, particularly during the first few months. We all said that when we came home we would do everything we could to further their work. April 6th 1943 is a day he will not forget. As he was studying mathematics an officer came up and touched his shoulder. ‘You’ll be going home next week’, he said. Two days later he was on his way back to England. The journey home was not uneventful. The night Spezia was raided by the RAF their train had to wait in a tunnel for eight hours until the worst of the raid was over. When they emerged the mountainside seemed to be ablaze with incendiaries and a big tanker was ‘going up in smoke’. While they waited in the tunnel the railway behind them was blown up. The journey home took just over av fortnight, and they arrived in England on Good Friday. The first thing Sergt. Macdonald did was to send a telegram to his wife. This was the first she new of his return although she had been hoping against hope that he might be among the prisoners sent home. Sergt. Macdonald’s younger brother, Flight-Sergt. Hamish Wheeler Macdonald, RAF, was killed in a flying accident while on active service in March and this sad news had to be broken to Sergt. Macdonald on his return home.