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Mk3iain

HMS Van Dyke

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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

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Threads like this make the site what it is. all inclusive and facinating. During both the first and second world wars Large passenger ships were taken up for war service, some designated armed merchant cruisers and equipped with various calibers of weapons. Govenment subsidies were availlable for new build liners to cover for this situation. Some of these vessels fought with distinction probably the most famous being the Rawlpindi. I would think the least auspicious being the Titanics sister 5 Captains on the bridge and it still ran into a lumpy bit off Scotland.

Edited by john1950
additions

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Threads like this make the site what it is. all inclusive and facinating.

 

Especially the Brits on the forum have had parents/Grandparents who endured so much and helped to defeat the German forces. So I thank them for being a part of the freedom I now enjoy.

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The other of Titanic's Sisters, Britianic was converted to Hospital Ship in the Great War. Going to Galliopli in the Medeteranian she was allegedly sunk by a U Boat. Though more likley she hit a mine.

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There was a T.V. program on the sinking of the Britanic a few years ago. I think the conclusion was a mine was the cause. I seem to remember as with the Titanic the bulkhead water tight doors were open. Sorry to digress from the original important thread. Merchant marine Sailors in the North Atlantic had an especially hard time with little or no recognition at the time.

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I am going through a stack of old photos that came from my mothers house recently and came across these two.

They look like postcards and the sign at the back reads " FELDPOST 19401 A", my dad is in the back row under the T I think.

POW Band.pdf

 

One of the cards has a return address to my dad although part is missing due to the piece missing off the card.

It reads, as best as I can see.

H H Adair AB. RN

POW 14654

2.KOMP KGF B.A.B.21 Blechhammer. O.c

UBER. HEYDEBRECK T1

 

I have made some guesses but it might make sense to someone.

Ill keep on digging!

 

Iain

Edited by Mk3iain

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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

 

I found an address for my dad at BAB21 also at Heydebreck this led me to Pegasusarchive and other websites.

I have found confirmation of some of the things he told me over the years, little snippets that are now making sense.

He told of working at a chemical plant as he was a plumber and workers from BAB21 did indeed work at a local plant.

Other things such as the long march then the camp he ended up at (Stalag VII A, Moosburg) being liberated by Patton who insisted the camp gates were closed so that they could drive a tank through them. This has also been confirmed.

I am just getting started and am not an expert researcher but it's amazing what is on the inter web!

This pic was most likely from BAB21, my dad is on the right.

 

http://www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/S344/BAB21/PicBab21_Burgess53.htm

 

Many thanks to Mark Hickman at Pegasus Archive for permissions.

 

Iain

Edited by Mk3iain

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Diligence and patience the answers are out there. I think the Vandyck was being used as a mother ship before it went to Norway.

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have some more information on HMS Vandyck. My great Uncle, John Lloyd Croasdaile was in the RNVR and was assigned to the Vandyck at the start of the war. I believe he was 1st Officer. He also was a painter, and painted a series of 9 paintings showing the Vandyck during its all too short career. Apparently he made sketches on the inside of match boxes and converted them to paintings later. I don't know when he painted them. You can link to them here.

 

http://www.mossclan.co.uk/family_tree/Jack_Croasdaile/Vandyck_paintings/index.htm

attachment.php?attachmentid=125869&stc=1

 

Jack Croasdaile remained a prisoner throughout the war. His story is particularly tragic as his wide and children were killed on the SS City of Benares during an evacuation to the USA. More information on this, his other paintings, his WW1 service on the Yangtze River, photos in PoW camps and his life with Cunard (he reached the rank of Staff Captain on the Queen Mary by 1939) are here.

http://www.mossclan.co.uk/family_tree/Jack_Croasdaile/index.htm

 

Apparently the Vandyk's bell is on a tower in the town of Bleik on the island of Andøya.

https://goo.gl/images/Evz3Z6 and https://goo.gl/images/R6jid3

If anyone has other information on the Vandyck and its crew, I'd be interested to see it.

Vandyke under attack.jpg

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This is getting to be a totaly absorbing thresd. Little snippet at a time. Great reserach.

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That picture is so very like the one that I have posted on page 1 of this thread, brilliant

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This is fantastic!  My father was on the Vandyck.  He joined the Royal Navy in 1938 and served until 1960 when I was born.  He was a Sick Berth Attendant on the Vandyck, and spent the majority of the rest of the war in Marlag und Milag Nord at Westertimke.

As far as I know, the Vandyck missed her rendezvous and sailed too far North, ending up on the other side of the peninsula to Narvik, where she was supposed to be taking part in the evacuation of troops withdrawing from Norway.  In fact, two destroyers were dispatched to look for her when she failed to turn up.  I believe she was dive-bombed and caught fire on the 9th June 1940, was abandoned on the 10th and sank either later that day or the following day.  The evacuations from Narvik had pretty much completed by the 8th June.

The crew were taken prisoner and most, I believe, ended up initially at Stalag X-B at Sandbostel, which later acquired a much darker reputation as a concentration camp in all but name. 

During 1941-1942, some of the prisoners there were transferred to (and indeed, helped to build) Marlag und Milag Nord at Westertimke, about 15-20 miles away. 

In late 1942, all the ratings from M&MN were transferred to Stalag VIII-B at Lamsdorf, with the NCOs and officers remaining.  I believe my father by this time had been made a temporary Leading Sick Berth Attendant, and stayed at M&MN, and so was probably one of the lucky ones, as life at Lamsdorf seems to have been much harder.

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On 14/11/2017 at 4:08 PM, mikecsteer said:

 

During 1941-1942, some of the prisoners there were transferred to (and indeed, helped to build) Marlag und Milag Nord at Westertimke, about 15-20 miles away. 

My Grandfather must have spent the war with your father here then, as this is certainly from where he was liberated, he was promoted to an acting officer whilst a POW, no idea how that happened, but I have seen records stating this. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 14 August 2013 at 11:45 PM, natra said:

My grandfather was also on this ship, I believe 7 crew inc 2 officers died, the rest of the crew were taken to oflag 1X, so reports go, but my research shows that was a pow camp (a castle I believe) for RAF POWs , yet I own the war office telegram stating clearly that's where the survivors were taken, bit of a mystery truth be known

What an Interesting thread, I started my career at Sea as a Junior Engineer after I completed my Apprenticeship as a Fitter & Turner in a shipyard, although this was in 1990 the Junior Engineer rank was generally from lads who had completed there Apprentice ship ashore in a shipyard or similar and went straight in the Merchant Navy as Junior Engineer. The only thing they need to  do was learn the running of the engine room as they already were Tradesman so knew how to use tools ext. 

Looking at the date of The Letter from the General Register and Record office of Shipping and Seaman I would guess he had not been at Sea long unless he had been a cadet ? The Address on the bottom is The Bungalow, Hightown , Nr Liverpool, this is now Formby but Hightown still exists ......... Altacar Rifle ranges are there. 

POW's were normally held in any nearest available camp until processed.

Edited by bigduke6

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7 hours ago, bigduke6 said:

What an Interesting thread, I started my career at Sea as a Junior Engineer after I completed my Apprenticeship as a Fitter & Turner in a shipyard, although this was in 1990 the Junior Engineer rank was generally from lads who had completed there Apprentice ship ashore in a shipyard or similar and went straight in the Merchant Navy as Junior Engineer. The only thing they need to  do was learn the running of the engine room as they already were Tradesman so knew how to use tools ext. 

Looking at the date of The Letter from the General Register and Record office of Shipping and Seaman I would guess he had not been at Sea long unless he had been a cadet ? The Address on the bottom is The Bungalow, Hightown , Nr Liverpool, this is now Formby but Hightown still exists ......... Altacar Rifle ranges are there. 

POW's were normally held in any nearest available camp until processed.

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

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Thats Interesting regarding the reserves, I mention not being at Sea long,  as most in the Junior Engineer Rank soon became 4th and 3rd Engineers, back then the Board of Trade exams were for Second and Chief Engineers...... so no certificate was needed for the junior ranks, although when discharged Sea service testimonials would be issued plus the Discharge Book stamped accordingly.

A lot of young lads when in there last year of Apprenticeship could finish it at Sea in some cases, also some straight out of there time, (like myself) went to Sea.

During the war tradesmen just under the maximum age of enlistment would probably remain in there trade as they were more valuable in that position, Some over the age and wanting to do something would volunteer for The Merchant Navy. 

You Grandfather being a Junior Engineer, this was a Merchant Navy Officer Rank, So When the the vessel come under the command of the RN he and the other crew would of been transferred to RNR or RNVR but would still receive his MN pay. 

As a POW there is probably a lot more you can find out though the National Archives.  Also try the Royal Navy as the Vessel was sunk and also being under the RN they would have crew lists etc.

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19 hours ago, bigduke6 said:

Thats Interesting regarding the reserves, I mention not being at Sea long,  as most in the Junior Engineer Rank soon became 4th and 3rd Engineers, back then the Board of Trade exams were for Second and Chief Engineers...... so no certificate was needed for the junior ranks, although when discharged Sea service testimonials would be issued plus the Discharge Book stamped accordingly.

A lot of young lads when in there last year of Apprenticeship could finish it at Sea in some cases, also some straight out of there time, (like myself) went to Sea.

During the war tradesmen just under the maximum age of enlistment would probably remain in there trade as they were more valuable in that position, Some over the age and wanting to do something would volunteer for The Merchant Navy. 

You Grandfather being a Junior Engineer, this was a Merchant Navy Officer Rank, So When the the vessel come under the command of the RN he and the other crew would of been transferred to RNR or RNVR but would still receive his MN pay. 

As a POW there is probably a lot more you can find out though the National Archives.  Also try the Royal Navy as the Vessel was sunk and also being under the RN they would have crew lists etc.

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.

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