Sunday, April 23, 2006

A 'Wish I wasn't here' postcard Christmas 1941

A 1941 Christmas Card from Oflag VIIC

This is the front of a second postcard sent by Driver Moreton Wilson RASC (Service No T/60834) to his wife and four children back home in Workington West Cumberland (now Cumbria) for Christmastime 1941. Moreton's Prisoner of War number was 668.

According to recent information kindly supplied to the family by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, Moreton was taken prisoner during the Battle of Amiens on 20 May 1940 at either Doullens or Albert. Moreton was known to his friends as 'Joe'. Sadly, Moreton died in a German hospital in May 1943. He is buried in the CWGC Cemetery at Krakow Rakowicki in Poland.

(For further information click on to 'Comments' below')


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(Continuation of information of Moreton Wilson's 'Wish I wasn't here postcard' Christmas 1941)

Further information from the ICRC indicates why Morteton sent two different postcards home from different German POW camps for Christmas 1941. On 4 December 1941 the ICRC was sent a list by the Germans confirming Moreton had been transferred from Oflag VIIC to Oflag VIB. The Christmas postcard Moreton sent from Oflag VIB shows Father Christmas going 'Over the Wire' at the prison camp (previously posted to this site).

From what I can tell of the cartoon of this postcard, it seems to have been drawn by one of the prisoners at Oflag VIIC by the name of A.A. West. His name is written towards the bottom right of the drawing. Evidently the content of the drawing has passed the German prison camp censors.

Much like the excellent cartoon on page 90 of 'Ron Goldstein's Actual Army Album' there are many detailed features shown on the drawing. So far as I can tell, the drawing on the postcard depicts at least some of the 'positive' activities that prisoners were able to undertake at the prison camp: learning to speak German, sunbathe, play in a band, ice skate and there is even an indication the prisoners lined up for a special treat of a half litre of German beer! At the top left of the drawing, the prisoners are opening the most welcome Red Cross Parcels.

Obviously, if any 'negative' features about the camp had been included in the drawing then it would not have passed the German censor. Possibly receiving a postcard depicting activities one might do while on a holiday would be some comfort to worried kinfolk of prisoners back home. While some prisoners at least did take part in some of the activities shown on the postcard, the more negative aspects of prison camp life could not be referred to at the time.

Driver Moreton Wilson RASC died in Hindenburg hospital on 13 May 1943. According to separate official documents obtained via the ICRC the official cause of death was either 'Meningitis' or 'Blood Poisoning and Heart Failure'. However, after the war Moreton's family heard from other prisoners of the deprivations that they suffered during the years in captivity, including the relatively poor diet and living conditions. Conditions for POWs were not always akin to tho se in a holiday camp. On the contrary, the years spent in German prison camps were very difficult for those who had to endure them.

Hopefully, the postcard and details may be of interest to other contributors to the 'Second World War' forum. If the "People's War" project had still been up and running there are many stories I could have contributed on behalf of Moreton's relatives. It was after following up details on the "People's War" website about where to find information about POWs that the family have been able to find out much more from the Red Cross about what happened to Moreton during the war. With this information, together with various photographs, postcards and letters it is now possible to put together much of Moreton's wartime story.

Sunday, 23 April, 2006  

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