The Professional P.O.W.

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by David Layne, May 14, 2008.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    On 26th August 1914 the exhausted men of the 2nd Battalion, The Suffolk regiment were heroically attempting to hold to hold the front line to the west of the Belgian village of Le Cateau.

    From dawn the battalion had been under heavy shelling from almost 200 German guns, and at midday with the battalion's Commanding Officer already among the dead, the Suffolks came under attack from three sides by the German 7th Infantry Division.

    By 1445 hrs the battalion was completely surrounded but continued to fight on despite having suffered severe casualties. Finally after nine desperate hours the brave Suffolks were finally overwhelmed, and the few survivors marched off to captivity.

    Among the prisoners was a young Officer, Second Lieutenant Backhouse. On his release in 1918, Second Lieutenant Backhouse opted to remain in the post war Regular Army.

    In 1942, now a Brigadier, he was again captured in Singapore by the Japanese and spent another 3 1/2 years in captivity, bringing his combined years in captivity to eight.

    Thereafter, Brigadier Backhouse would always refer to himself as "The Professional POW."
  2. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    I remember reading the obituary of one officer once - this was before the internet and I can't remember his name.

    Like Backhouse, he had been captured in the very earliest weeks of WW1, and spent the rest of WW1 in a prisoner of war camp.

    In April 1940 he was commanding a battalion in Norway, when they found themselves surrounded on three sides by the Germans, and their retreat was cut off by a deep ravine behind them. However, he was determined not to become a POW again, and he remembered that in 1910, he had been on a fishing holiday with his father in that same spot. He remembered that there had been a wooden footbridge over the ravine. That night, he took a couple of soldiers with him, and scouted along the ravine and found the bridge. Managing to hold out another day, the next night he managed to extricate the entire battalion over the bridge, which they then destroyed behind them (as quietly as possible I imagine), and they made it to Narvik from where they were evacuated back to England. He finally got his DSO for this.
  3. morse1001

    morse1001 Guest

    You think of the men, of 1st Glousters Regt in Korea, many had been POWs of the japs, who had been recalled to the colours and after the battle of the Imjim River, they became POWs of the Chineses!
  4. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    I wonder who would have been the worse masters?
  5. Hello Im new I was wonder if anyone can tell me how I can get the medal card for a family member
    George Douglas Miller B. April 13 1917 Pte #4750574 with the 1/5th BN, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) d. February 8 1942..

    He was a pow he was behead I would love to get his Medal card or any info I can get on him and his regiment
  6. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Welcome to the forum.

    If the deceased is a direct descendent then you can apply for his service records, or the NoK can. Most medal cards for WW2 haven't been released yet (except gallentry awards), and the only way of knowing is through his records.

    Service records - Army

    May I ask how you know that he was beheaded. His date of death precedes the surrender of Singapore? And the Sherwoods had only arrived a week before his death.
  7. This is something that my uncle had told me and another family told him.. I have no fact to back me at all that why I wanted to get his medal records.. But as I have not next to kin.. He is the son of my grandfathers brother.. I do know when I search the singapore memorial his name is on the wall in column 72 there... thanks again for your help
  8. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    It would be worth contacting the Museum as they may have more informaion. At the very least they will be able to give you a picture of what and where his unit was on that date:

    Sherwood Foresters Museum
  9. I had found this on one of the site i go too.. I was told that a lot of the POW that didn't come home were put down as they died on feb 8 1942 because they didn't have record on what day they real died on. World War 2 (1939-1945)

    The 2nd Battalion landed in France with the British Expeditionary Force in September 1939, and took part in the early stages of the 'phoney War' and the advance into Belgium.

    The 1/5, 2/5 and 9th Battalions also joined the BEF, the former as lines of communication troops, and the latter two for pioneer duties. All three of these Battalions were totally ill equipped for the operational tasks they eventually had to perform in the retreat to the Channel coast. At one period the 2nd, the 2/5th and 9th Battalions were together defending the Dunkirk perimeter before the successful evacuation. At the same time the 1/5th Battalion, after a period fighting alongside 51st Highland Division, was evacuated from Cherbourg.

    Meanwhile in April 1940, the 8th Battalion had landed in Norway as part of the ill-fated attempt to assist the Norwegian Army against the Germans. This Battalion had had little training and was not fully equipped; a situation made worse when the ship carrying its vehicles and heavy equipment was sunk. The Battalion became involved in a withdrawal through mountains and deep snow pursued by ski troops supported by aircraft and tanks, the remnants eventually being evacuated to Scotland.

    In June 1940 the 1st Battalion was moved from Palestine to reinforce the Garrison of Cyprus, where they suffered their first war casualties in an air raid. Early in 1942 the Battalion was moved to Egypt, converted to a motorised role, and joined the Desert Army. Unfortunately, after a sharp engagement in the Knightsbridge Box, the Battalion was ordered to surrender when the garrison in Tobruk capitulated.

    The 1/5th Battalion after a year in England sailed for the Far East and arrived in Singapore on 29th January 1942 just prior to its capture by the Japanese.

    As a result of those early defeats, many Foresters spent long years in captivity. Those of the 1/5th Battalion suffered particularly badly at the hands of the Japanese while working on the now notorious Burma-Siam Railway. 450 officers and men of this Battalion died in captivity.
  10. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    If he was taken POW, rather being killed in action then it would be worth contacting:

    Fepow Community

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