Lambeth to Lamsdorf by Robin Green

Author by: Robin Green

File Name: lambeth-to-lamsdorf.pdf


Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels

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This is the story of an ordinary young man, unworldly, untried and patriotic, who enlisted at 18 in 1942 and became an infantryman specialising as a machine gunner with the Middlesex Regiment and later with the Cheshire Regiment. His early years were spent in Lambeth and Mitcham, Surrey. As a 17 year old he joined the Home Guard and soon experienced the loss of a friend for the first time to a German landmine. His training in Saighton, Cheshire and elsewhere was followed by transit to North Africa as part of a support unit to the Salerno landings in Italy. His first experiences of combat north of the Garigliano River are vividly described. After his regiment was transferred to reinforce Operation Shingle at Anzio, Doug Hawkins was captured during the ‘Break Out’ from the Anzio Beachhead in June 1944 aged just 20. For the second time he experienced, in barbaric circumstances, the loss of his closest friend just yards from his position. Three months in cattle trucks with short stops at transit camps at Fruili and Moosberg opened his young eyes to the meaning of war. Finally arriving in Lamsdorf, Stalag 344 in August 1944, he spent five months as a POW until, in January 1945, Lamsdorf was evacuated as the Russians advanced from the east. The ‘Long March’ followed, privation heaped upon privation during the coldest continental winter of the 20th Century as thousands trudged westwards through Poland and Southern Germany until by April 1945, abandoned by their guards, they washed up close to the Americans’ advanced positions. It is a remarkable story of survival, inhumanity, resourcefulness, military humour and sheer bloody-mindedness occasionally interspersed with huge distress, kindness and humanity. It is a story which embraces both the heights to which the human spirit can soar and the depths to which it can plunge. This is but one story among thousands which the survivors of the ‘Long March’ could have told. It is one which will stay with the reader for a long time.


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