Manx-POWs

Articles from the Isle of Man Part 1 of 2

Manx Prisoners of War

The following photo clipping shows the extent to which the Manx spirit will go to maintain unity in adverse conditions. The inner strength and determination of these men allowed them to survive such situations and come home to their loved ones. It is assumed that it was World War II these men were in. The newsclipping is undated. Perhaps some family member could comfirm this.

qualtroughpow

Meg Turville-Heitz, of Cambridge, WI, USA, who owns the clipping writes:

"The above photoclipping from the Isle of Man EXAMINER was sent by ‘Aunt Alice QUALTROUGH’ who I believe was Alice Mylchreest who married William John Qualtrough (see chart 23 of A QUOTA OF QUALTROUGHS)….Her notes read ‘My son, Harry’ (Harry would be William Harry Q born 1905 who married Florence Harrison – chart 23) for the man on the right of the photo. The ‘X’ beneath the photo says ‘Conibear is a friend of mine. He has been repatriated and is now in the Isle of Man.’

The text reads: ‘MANX PRISONERS OF WAR – This picture of four prisoners of war is exceptionally interesting. Reading from left to right the men are: Sergt. Walter Varley, Sergt. J.K.Conibear, Battery Sergt-Major W.Rogers and Company Sergt-Major W.Harry Qualtrough. They are interned in Stalag XXA(5). Battery Sergt-Major Will Rogers came to the Island as Permanent Staff Instructor on the formation of the Manx Regiment and was attached to the 41st Battery along with B.S.M.Baker. Subsequently he was posted back to England and, serving with another regiment has apparently been taken prisoner. B.S.M. Baker, who was transferred to the 129th Battery was also taken prisoner in Crete.

There are 20 Manxmen in Stalag XXA(5) and Sergt. Varley, who has sent on the photo, says they are a grand lot.’

Another article, from MONA’S HERALD July 24th, 1945, reads in part: ‘Manx Society in German Prison Camp—Story told to me at the WMA (World Manx Assn) Tynwald Gathering –The fascinating story of a Manx Society which flourished in a prisoner of was camp in the heart of Germany for more than two and a half years, was told to the annual Tynwald Day Gathering of the World Manx Associaton, at Douglas, by Bombardier Arnold Forrester one of the founder members of this unique Society, which bore the name of THE TYNWALD CLUB. It was formed in 1942 by 20 Manxmen in Stalag 383 situated at the foot of the Bavarian Alps only 33 miles from Nuremburg.

Company Sgt. Major Harry Qualtrough was elected President, Sergt.Curwen Clague, Secretary, and Sgt.J Manderson Treasurer. Most of the members belonged to the 129th Battery of the Manx Regiment, but Sgt Major Qualtrough was Senior W.O. of the Durham Light Infantry. Although he had not seen his home in St. John’s for some years and had spent most of his life abroad, he was, said Bombdr Forrester "as Manx as any of us, and by his splendid example and sympathetic understanding did much for our morale in those dark days. He got us our hut and from then on Wednesday night was Tynwald Night.

"In that hut in the evenings we would draw the curtain across the window, which looked out across the muddy wastes, the tumbled down huts, the high barbed wire fence, the look-out towers and the searchlights. We would shut out the present and dwell awhile on the past, returning in our thoughts to our loved ones at home." News from home was of paramount interest. A letter to one, if it contained news of people and events, was a letter to all. Cigarettes were the currency of the camp and with them one could buy almost anything from a shirt to an accordian. Each member paid two cigarettes a week to the treasurer and so created a fund which enabled them to have an occasional light meal in the true "Manx tay" traditions and supply any of their members in hospital with extra cigarettes. Sometimes an Australian, a New Zealander or a Palestinian would give them a lecture on their home country and in return Sgt Norman Cowley would be invited to give a talk on the Isle of Man. On two occasions his audiences numbered over 1000 men. In addition, he spoke at every Club in camp, representing almost every district in Britain. There were over 7000 men in Stlag 383 and by the time Sergt Cowley had finished with the whole camp, it was "Isle of Man conscious."….(section snipped)

It continues:

There was tremendous enthusiasm when it was learned that Company Sergt.Major Qualtrough was present and he was given a rousing welcome when he mounted the platform. He spoke of his happy experiences in meeting Manxmen in many parts of the world during his career in the Army ‘ "

Submitted by Meg Turville-Heitz, Cambridge, WI. USA (January 2001)

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