Gunner W T Darby

Gunner William Tom Darby
No 1771772, B Troop, 107 Battery, 27 Light Anti-Aircraft Regt, Royal Artillery

Captured: Tobruk 21 June 1942

In May 1942 107 Battery were sent to provide Anti-Aircraft cover at Tobruk Harbour, at the fall of Tobruk on 21 June the whole Battery became Prisoners of War. Initially held at Tobruk and then transported by lorry via Derna to Benghazi were they were held for several weeks pending transfer to mainland Italy. From Benghazi they were transported in the holds of merchant ships to Brindisi in South West Italy before before being transferred to transit camp Campo PG66 Capua, near Naples. 

On 28 September 1942 Gunner Darby was transferred to a permanent camp, Campo PG54 Fara Sabina. After the Italian Armistice he left Campo PG54 on 11 September 1943  and headed for the surrounding hills with his friend Gunner Alf Hague until 25 September when they were recaptured by German Paratroopers at Monteflavio. After capture they were put on a train to Austria arriving at Stalag XVIIIA, Wolfsburg, on 11 October were he was re-registered as POW Number 8390. On 4 November they left Stalag XVIIIA arriving at Work Camp 934L Glashütte, Mönichkirchen on 7 November. The camp was on a private estate owned by Prince Bourbon and the POW's were sent by the military to work with the estate workers in the forest.

On 1 April 1945 all the POW's left Work Camp 934L in small groups and headed for the Hungarian border until they met the advancing Russian Army, from here they made their way via Yugoslavia and Romania to the Russian port of Odessa arriving on 2 May where they were met by members of the British Military Mission to Moscow. On 3 May they left Odessa on the SS Bergensfjord headed for Naples where they arrived on 7 May. After a short rest they left Naples on 13 May and after a brief stop at Gibraltar finally docked at the King George V Dock, Glasgow on 24 May 1945.

Birthday message to his daughter Pamela, 7June 1942, just prior to capture at Tobruk

Gunner Darby (middle) and Gunner Hague (2nd left) in Cairo 1942

For Christmas 1942 POW's were issued with diaries from the Vatican, many used them to record events, notes, names and addresses. If you recognise any names in the pages below please contact me
Click on an image to enlarge 

Vatican Diary