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natra last won the day on January 27

natra had the most liked content!

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About natra

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  1. Its quite strange seeing a photo of the man who started the chain of events that changed so many lives
  2. Thanks for that, but the link worked fine for me, Its quite amazing seeing the man who actually sunk Vandyke,
  3. Only just seen this, been busily on tour, then Christmas and then moved house, That is quite amazing, thank you for posting
  4. Thanks for this, gives me more to check out, I have a copy of his POW interview on release, I must spend some time going thru the National Archives, That's interesting about the Merchant Navy Rank, that would explain him being held in an officers POW camp for the duration.
  5. My Grandfather was in his late 30s when he was on the Vandyk, he had been an engineer all his working life, I believe he was in navy reserves before the war and was then put into action when the war started
  6. That picture is so very like the one that I have posted on page 1 of this thread, brilliant
  7. As A follow up to this I was contacted by a guy called Graham Blackwell this is his Fathers experience after the Vandyke was sunk Upon capture in the Lofoten Islands, the prisoners were taken by cattle truck to Denmark and then by boat to a transit camp near Cuxhaven in northern Germany. It would appear that from there that the prisoners were split up. My dad, along with some others were sent to Stalag VIIIB, workcamp BAB20 at Heydebreck in what is now part of Poland. He was forced to work 10 hours a day building a motorway. Towards the end of the war, as the Russians and Americans were advancing, the camp was evacuated and so the famous Lamsdorf Death Marches began. He marched nearly 1400 miles, resting one day in four, fed on weak soup and black bread and suffered the loss of all his teeth after being hit in the mouth with a rifle butt. He was rescued by the Americans 50 miles shy of Nuremburg. I tried many times to get my dad to reminisce but whilst he mentioned the humurous incidents such as stealing from the guards to make costumes to put on plays, he never talked about the darker things. I do know that those 5 years changed him from being a loveable scouse rogue to a somewhat reticent intropsective man but he was well liked and over 100 people attended his funeral in 1993. My dad was Eric William Blackwell (1912-1993) and he was assistant steward on the VanDyck from 17th June 1939 (originally signed on as assistant pantryman!) He was a POW until 23rd April 1945 and discharged on 18th September 1945. He had been a merchant seaman since 1930 after running away from home apart from a break when he worked as a waiter at Lyons Coffee House at Marble Arch in London. http://www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/S344/BAB20/PicSt_344_Bab20Stroud35.htm hi father is the tall guy with a tie on
  8. Just a little update to this thread, I now have My Grandfathers Arctic Star took some getting, but it is now proudly displayed at home
  9. Its all interesting stuff, I bet Lamport & Holt were impressed their Top cruise liner was being used for that, Sadly I never met my grandfather as he died in '57, so never really got more info than he was an engineer and on board, when sunk, and no info as to anyone else on board
  10. I think you are right, it certainly wasn't well armed, it was a cruise liner which was loaded with a WW1 gun and called an armed merchantman!. Three marines were put on board and the crew issued with naval uniforms, It was bombed on 9th June, which set it on fire, it was abandoned and sunk on 10th June 1940
  11. Depending on what you read it is either classed as a boarding vessel, or an Armed Merchant cruiser, it was a fairly big ship, as it was previously a cruise liner accommodating 650 passengers
  12. On board the Vandyck was a certain Walter Purdy who became known as the Colditz Traitor http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/1941694.quiet_man_of_thundersley_was_the_colditz_traitor/One of the reasons your father may have beeen on the road gangs is that there were two POW camps at Marlag Ind Milag Nord , Westertimke (Tarmstedt). they were not actually completed when prisoners were taken there, so the prisoners had to literally build their own prison, one was for merchant seamen, who under the genevre convention, should have been repatriated, but were instead eventually put in the camp built for non combatant civilliams, even though they were under royal navy command. the germans did at one time offer to do a prisoner swap of merchant seamen, but Churchill refused, reason being he thought that if the german ones were released they would be pressed into crewing U Boats and warships,
  13. My Grandfather who was on the vandyck was eventually registered as spending the war at Marlag Ind Milag Nord , Westertimke (Tarmstedt) As your father was on the same ship, and presumably captured at the same time, my guess is he was at the same camp for some time
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