Here are further details on the remaining 10 of the 24 British soldiers first mentioned in “British Escapees from Camp 59—New Names.” See also “Detailed Accounts of 14 British Escapees.”

Once again, I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for sharing records concerning these soldiers from the British National Archives.

Of particular interest in the details below are the individual soldiers’ descriptions of the escape night, the names and addresses of their helpers (and one blacklisted fascist), and the escape routes each followed to freedom.

Note that some of the reports are carbon copies of others. Presumably when two soldiers traveled and reached the Allied forces together, only one debriefing report was deemed necessary. In those cases, a carbon was made and the second soldier’s personal information was then added to the top.

John Georgiou

Service Number—1712593
Gunner
49th Battalion, Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Helper:

Domenico Censori
Montefalcone Appenino
Ascoli-Piceno
Provided food and shelter December 2, 1943–June 25, 1944

George Aitken

Service Number—2980168
Lance-Sergeant
93rd Battalion, Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
Captured—January 21, 1943, Maktar, Tunisia
Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

George Aitken’s report is a carbon copy of Gregor McKenzie’s report (below).

W. Burns

Service Number—3196639
Sergeant
2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Captured—December 5, 1942, Pont du Fahs, Tunisia
Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Details of escape from Camp 59:

“On the night of 14 Sep in accordance with pre arranged plant made by the S.B.O. I with the rest of the prisoners made our way out of the camp by means of holes in wall, wire etc. We went out because it was thought a German Coln [column] was in the vicinity; the Italian guards were still there. I and six others made our way South. Near FARINDOLA we met five American Para Tps [paratroopers] who gave us a route. This was on the 12 Oct and by then the boat with which the para tps were working had gone. We continued to go South until we came to LUCITO on 1 Nov, and met some Canadian Recce [Reconnaissance] Corps.”

Helpers:

A schoolmaster and doctor at Pietra Canela were most generous with food, etc., and the doctor attended an American who was ill nearby

Blacklist:

“The Italian Comdt [commandant] at PG 98 in Sicily was definitely oppressive toward the British Prisoners. He threatened the NCO’s that is the men did not work he would put them in chains. He did in fact put two men in chains later for refusing to work.”

Names of those you know who have escaped:

S/Sgt. Davies (Royal Army Ordnance Corps), F/Sgt. Collins, P/Sgt. Dancer, P. Sgt. Clark, Sgt. Hunter (Royal Air Force), Sgt. Bleith (Royal Air Force)

Robert Henry Collins

Service Number—5342465
Lance-Sergeant
2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Captured—January 19, 1943, south of Mateur, Tunisia
Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Numbers in Camp 59 on September 8, 1943 given as 400 Brit. O.Rs. [other ranks, as opposed to officers and non-commissioned officers], 800 U.S. O.Rs., 2 Med Offrs., 1 Dental Offrs., and 3 chaplains

Details of escape from Camp 59:

“In company with 5 others, I left the camp 14 Sept. There were still Italian sentries on guard. The S.B.O. had told all the camp just before, that they should all leave it. We were fired on by Italian sentries but they did not appear to try to be accurate. The S.B.O. then broadcast on the loudspeaker, a request to the sentries not to go on firing, they stopped. We went to a place near AMANDALEY, we had previously split up into smaller parties. I was with F/Sgt [flight sergeant] DEBENHAM RAF (was in Torpedo Bomber Sqn—Beauforts from MALTA) (same camp as me) There we stayed 4 or 5 days in a small hut on our own. Here we were found by Cpl. Coomber (T/3244655 129 Coy RASC) We went on together to BARASCIANO where we met many others (see Cpl. Coomber’s statement). We left DEBENHAM here, Coomber and I going on together, as we had heard that 300 Germans had come to the village. We got to BAGNOLE together On 27 Oct we split up. I stayed on a nearby farm till 5 Nov, when I went to TERELLO, meeting the Canadian Highland Div there.”

Helper:

Signor Domenico
Via Colle
Bagnole, Campobosso
Food and accommodation for 7 days

Late news of whereabouts of escapers:

F/Sgt. Debenham—see above
Sgt. Parker, RAF—last seen on September 17 near Amandaley
Sgt. Greenhalgh, RAF—ditto
Sgt. Hatcher, RHA—ditto
Cpl. S. Lokich—166-08, 89 Jamaicas, Long Island, N.Y.—ditto

Sydney Charles Dowland

Service Number—2614655
Corporal
1st Special Air Service Regiment
Captured—July 9, 1943, Monte Vechio, Sardinia
Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Stated he cannot accurately estimate number of prisoners in Camp 59 on September 8, 1943; however, all escaped “except about 20 sick”

Details of escape from Camp 59:

“In company with eighteen others, I left the camp on 14 Sep [September], there were still Italian sentries on guard. The S.B.O. had told us all before, that they should leave it. We were fired upon by Italian Sentries, but they did not appear to try to be accurate. The S.B.O. broadcast on the camp loudspeaker a request to the sentries not to go on firing, they stopped. A few miles from the camp we split up. I sent with Sgt HIRD (3 Coldstream Gds [Guards]—LRDG [Long Range Desert Group])and 3 American Soldiers, Ellsworth (Washington), Tanech (Minnesota) and PFC Darrel De Camp of Adel, Iowa. We made our way over the mountains, avoiding all inhabited places. I eventually reached the Canadians nr [near] MULICIA(?) due south of BAGNOLE on night of 2–3 Nov. [November]”

Helpers:

Signor Rocco Rossini
Carpineto, Pescara
Food and accommodation for Dowland and another escapee for one night

Domenico Orlandli
Sarnano, Macerata
Fed five escapees, including Dowland, for two days

Late news of whereabouts of escapers:

Sergeant Hird—last seen on September 24 near Amandaley
Ellsworth and Tanech—left in Gran Sasso about September 28
De Camp—left with two Canadian flight officers in area of San Pietro Avellana about October 30

John M. Greenshields

Platoon Acting Sergeant
Service Number—860452
Royal Horse Artillery
Captured—November 23, 1941, Sidi Rezegh, Libya

Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Numbers in camp on September 8, 1943:
2 M.O’s [medical officers], 1 Den. Offr. [dental officer], 3 Padres, 1,000 U.S., 300 Brit.

Details of escape from Camp 59:

“On night of 14 Sept our R.S.M. told us to pack up and leave camp as the Germans were suspected as approaching, Sgt. Meyler, 7886262, 5 RTR and I attempted to scale the wall surrounding the camp. The Italian sentries fired on us, but appeared to be aiming over our heads. We did not succeed in getting over the wall, but shortly afterward we heard the voice of the Italian 2 i/c [second-in-command] over the loud speakers, telling the sentries not to fire. The Italians then opened the gates and the whole camp left. We made our way South arriving at a village called ROTELLA, 15 Km North from ASCOLI, PICENO. We stayed on farm here for 21 days. We then went on via ASCOLI, CASTEL SAN PIETRO, USCERNO, COLLE, ARLI, ROCCA SANTA MARIA, PADULA, FANO, PIETRA CAMELA, through GRAN SASSO MT, FARUBDIKA, FORCA DI PENNE, BUSSI, SALLE, ROCCA CARAMANICO, down SULMONA valley toward CASTEL DI SANGRO, toward BAGNOLE SULTRIGNO. Here we met Canadians on 9 Nov 43.”

Helpers:

Vincenzo Egidi
Savoy Grenadiers [Granatieri di Savoia, an infantry division of the Italian Army]
Food, accommodation, and every possible help for 21 days
Owner of farm Casa Nova NR. [near] ASCENSION, NR. ROTTELLA

Lorrenzo Natalie
Lt. Italian Armd Car Rgt [Lieutenant, Italian Armored Car Regiment]
With Egidi, he tried to organize a sabotage gang (same address)

Italia Pasqualini
Rottella
Food for 21 days

B. Guy

Service Number—902822
Flight Sergeant
39th Squadron, Royal Air Force
Captured—June 23, 1942, 70 miles off Sicily, in the sea

Escaped from Camp 59 on September 12, 1943

Numbers in camp on September 8, 1943:
2 M.O’s [medical officers], 1 Dental Offr. [dental officer], 3 Chaplains, 800 U.S. O.Rs. [other ranks], 300 Brit. O.Rs.

Details of escape from Camp 59:

“On 12 Sept S.B.O. gave us orders to leave the camp. Holes had previously been made through the wire in conjunction with the Italians. 13 of us left the camp that night and made for the hills. The sentries opened fire but only one man was grazed on the cheek. We heard the Camp’s interpreters voice, soon after, coming over the loudspeaker, telling them to cease fire, which they did. We lay up in the hills for 5 days, hoping the Allies would soon come. Then we heard from the Italians, who were feeding us, that the Germans were occupying the camp. I pushed on with another RAF Sgt [identified in a footnote as 1068295 Sgt. Taylor, J.S., R.A.F.], who has arrives at BARI. We walked via ASCOLI, TERAMO, CAMPO BASSO, BOMBA TO MONTEFALCONE, where we met Indian Div.”

Peter Arthur Hawksley-Hill

Service Number—115227
Sergeant Pilot
185th Squadron, Royal Air Force
Captured—September 26, 1941, Derna, Libya

Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Details of escape from Camp 59:

“We were released on the 14 Sep. With two others, I then made my way South to ROTELLA on Mountain ASCENCIEN, where we stayed for three weeks. We then moved on South towards CAMPOBASSO by way of the DELLA LAGA MTS, GRANDE SASSO AND MAIELLE RANGE. We only contacted villages at night and finally reached our tps [troops] at BAGNOLI on 5 Nov.”

Helpers:

Assisted by Italian peasants throughout whole of journey

G. Mackenzie

Service Number—2748467
Sergeant
2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Captured—December 3, 1942, Tunis, Tunisia
Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

Gives number who were in camp on September 9, 1943 as 1,348; believed all escaped “except 15 in hospital”

Details on escape from Camp 59:

“The whole camp was evacuated on 14 Sep on orders of the S.B.O.[Senior British Officer, Captain J. H. D. Millar]. Holes had been made in the wire in conjunction with the Italians. I and 2980168 L/Sgt. Aitken G (93 A/Tk Regt RA) went out together. We sent South, passing 5 Km west of ASCOLI, West of TERAMO, til we contacted an officer and about 10 men who had been dropped by parachute in order to guide escaping POWs to boats. This was on 11 Oct about 20 miles West of CHIETE. We then went on by ourselves due EAST nr. VILLANOVA. Here we were told by three French Commandos (SAS) that the Germans were in the village. The Commandos were waiting at a R.V. [rendezvous] for their officer, we waited a week but he did not turn up. We got food from a farmer who let us live in a barn. After this week was up, we all struck out S.E. The next day Sgt. Aitken and I separated from the others. Nr. SANTA MARINA we saw much German tpt [transport vehicles] and personnel on the main road. There was plenty of cover so they could not see us. We saw 6 spitfires strafe what appeared to be a dump or concentration of tpt nearby. We then went on S.E. to the TRIGNO river which we had crossed near FRONTALMORRO and soon after met an Italian Farmer. This man had a chit signed by a Lt. Col. White that he was a trustworthy guide and he took us to FRONTALMORRO where we met some R.Es(Br)”

Helper:

Signor Salvatore Spinelli
Ioanella
Teramo
(Abruzzo Region)
Provided accommodation and food for three days

John Francis Meyler

Service Number—7886262
Sergeant
5th Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment
Captured—November 23, 1941, Sidi Rezegh, Libya

Escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943

John Meylor’s report is a carbon copy of John Greenshields’ report (above).