Prisoner of War Map

Map kept by the POWs

I've spent part of today going through some of my Grandad's papers. There is a lot of memorabilia in there, and I thought I'd periodically post some of it online, along with any stories which are associated with them. I'll also put on other items which come to me from other relatives - of course, this assumes that there is some interest.

This map was kept by my Grandad in a German POW camp in World War 2. He, along with his platoon, were captured somewhere in the region of Arras. They were on their way to the evacuation at Dunkirk (Dunkerque) but they never made it. Up until his death he still remembered being straffed by the Luftwaffe. A few days before he died he was convinced at one point that he was back on that French road.

Once captured, he along with the other POWs were marched across Europe. They would literally support their colleagues as they went for if one could not march, one was shot.

He spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp, having walked from the North of France. I think he was taken south as he described mountain ranges.

This map survives. It is a flimsy document, held together with a wing and a prayer, and a few pieces of tape. The map was kept in the camp, and the prisoners used it to follow troop movements which they heard from local Germans at their work placements, one of which was working in a plant which helped to make V2 rockets - an activity they were forced to do. One of the secretaries used to pass news on to the prisoners. When she was discovered she and her family were executed. In addition if the map was discovered then there was a high chance of being shot.

The map was hidden by being wrapped in oil skins, and it was kept in the pot of constantly boiling water which they used in the hut for various purposes.

The map is quite large, A3 size with a bit sticking out (so it once was A2). This image has been stitched together from three scans - I've shown a close up of the region around Brussels where one can just make out some of the pencil marks which were made.

A larger version of the map can be obtained by clicking on the image - the highest res version is too large to put online!

Additional: This entry has been linked to from 'The Map Room'