Down Memory Lane, January 15 2021

There is nothing to stop us remembering, in our own time and in our own way, the sacrifices of soldiers like Gunner Neil MacLean, photographed here, who spent five years as a prisoner of war following the 51st Highland Division's surrender at St Valéry-en-Caux during the Second World War.
Gunner Neil MacLean.

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Soldiers on the move after escape from guards

The Courier continues to share more from Campbeltown soldier Gunner Neil MacLean’s previously unpublished prisoner of war diary. Gunner MacLean was captured following the 51st Highland Division’s surrender at St Valéry-en-Caux during the Second World War.

The diary, and several photographs of Neil during and after the war, were supplied by Neil’s son Calum, who knew nothing of the diary until after his father’s death.

This week continues from January 1945:

Wednesday January 24th, moved out of Tiegenhof on the march. We had a sleigh with us to carry our packs. Arrived at Newminterburgh after two hours. Thousands of people here, horses, army lorries.

January 25th, our guards got lost in the rush, so our party made for a farm about two miles away, managed to get a bed in the cow stall. 26th, the farmer did not want us so nine of us moved out and landed on a small farm about two miles away. So here we are, settled down in another cow stall.

January 27th and 28th, helped the farmer. Huie and Dave went out to see what was doing near Tiegenhof. Came back after six hours and decided to stay where we are at present. Heavy snow storm.

January 29th and 30th, helping the farmer. Huie and Duncan went in search of cereal and were successful. 31st, helping the farmer. Huie and Duncan were away for seven hours and returned with bread and tobacco.

February 1st, helping the farmer. 2nd, moved out at 3pm and went over on the ferry. Landed at a small place. 3rd, left here at 11am by lorry and arrived in Danzig about 2pm, then walked to the camp. We arrived at the French camp and had to move on to one of our own. Arrived there after a dreary march with heavy kit. Once we had a cup of tea we were OK. About 500 of our boys here Stolenberg.

February 4th, made a bed to sleep in and got our kit dried out. At night there was a dance same as 5th, 6th, 7th. On the 8th we were working helping making beds for wounded soldiers in a school in Danzig. 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th 14th, 15th, working all day at beds.

On the 12th, needle for TB and doing well. 16th, re-called from work at 11am. 17Th, moved out of camp at 8am and marched to Karthaus, about 28 km. 18th, moved out at 6.30am and marched till 10pm. All tired and weary. Pustram 32km. 19th, moved out at 10am and marched till 9pm to Lupow, 38km.

February 20th, day of rest, waiting for the remainder to catch up on us. 21st, moved out at 10am and marched to Stoep, 26km. Received a hot soup today (very good). 22nd, moved out at 10am and marched till 5.30pm, 20km to Nemitz. 23rd, moved out at 8am and marched till 5pm, 29km. 24th, moved out at 9am and marched till 6pm, 20km to Zachen. 25th, moved out at 8am, marched through Kolberg, 35km, marching along the coast with heavy wind.

Concludes in next week’s Courier.


Gunner Neil MacLean. NO_c03neilmaclean01