anzac POW freemen in europe

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C. Methodology

With hindsight, what was a suitable research format for the initial Compendium, "The AIF in Switzerland" proved somewhat inadequate when it was extended to include AIF POW "Free Men" in other countries of Europe.

In the context of Switzerland, every single allied "evade" was unquestionably a POW. Those airmen who crash-landed on Swiss territory in uniform, without having been in enemy hands became "internees". Moreover, Swiss Army Archival Records could be matched with their CARO counterpart.

This was not practical or even possible, with allied "escapers"  who remained at large behind enemy lines in the other countries of Europe, whether they were neutral, like Turkey and initially neutral Hungary, or axis-occupied territories, which were not. The Turkish Government for example, claims that no records of escapers crossing their borders, were kept. All combatants whether allied or axis, were simply repatriated immediately, AIF POW escapers arriving from Greece and/or Crete among them.

In turn, CARO simply transferred them from "Missing-believed POW" to "Re-joined Unit". In the majority of cases, this re-classification never took into account the distinction between those servicemen who had lain "doggo" for many months, sometimes years, before being liberated, from a comrade in arms, who escaped from an enemy holding or permanent camp, remained free for a longish period and was eventually re-captured, and so definitely became a POW. Nor those POW who did return successfully to allied lines, but volunteered with SOE or MI9 or other organisations to operate behind enemy lines.

Currently, there are only 14 names from the sub-roll of 40 AIF names listed as having reached Turkey who are categorised as POW on the DVA Nominal Roll

For research purposes, the Recorder has thus been compelled to assume that all AIF servicemen reaching Turkey, a signatory to the Hague Conventions and Protocols like Switzerland, were similar to the Swiss POW "evades" and are listed as such, by him.

An AIF soldier, wounded in action who subsequently died of those wounds in an allied hospital must be categorised differently to one who died in an enemy hospital.

Unless a soldier listed as "Missing in Action - Presumed Dead" was officially declared so by an AIF Court of Enquiry, he could also possibly be a "Free Man".

So, the research parameters had to be broadened to include on his extended nominal roll for the AIF POW "Free Men" of Europe, some of those who did escape but were re-captured, but to exclude others. The arbitrary line drawn was the relative success and duration of the escape. WX3380 Captain Ray Conway of the 2/28th Bn jumped from a train taking him to Germany, near Piacenza and, although injured, remained a "Free Man" in that area of Italy, before he was re-captured after 88 days. Others such as the 19 ANZAC POW, who tunnelled their way to temporary freedom from Campo 57, Gruppignano, Italy, but were re-captured within days are excluded. Those however, who escaped from forced re-location marches in Germany, in the dying days of the war and were not re-captured, are included. That research decision was entirely his.

Logic also demanded that he include in the "Free Men" nominal rolls, those AIF POW who were among government sponsored POW exchange, those repatriated on humanitarian grounds by the International Red Cross, and those who died in captivity whilst held in an enemy POW camp or fighting on with local freedom fighters, such as NX6401 Lawrence Philip Saywell, AASC, who escaped from a prison camp in Bohemia in 1943 and met his death fighting with partisans in Czechoslovakia or WX14978 Les Parker, 2/32nd Bn who escaped from a work camp in Vercelli and later died of wounds with partisans in North Italy, and NX3048 Sgt Richard Sydney Turner, MM, AASC, shot by a sniper in Greece en route to the Athens airport to be flown home to Australia.

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