Harry Hockey

Harry Hockey

Harry comes from a small village near Yeovil in Somerset, England. He was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers and was captured in Crete and marched over the mountains.

He escaped on a number of occasions from Stalag 18A, one time by assuming the name of another POW in a Work Party that left the camp. When brought back to the camp after his second escape, he managed to get lost amongst the cheering crowds and then hid in the church behind a false wall. Whilst he was in hiding, he managed to appear in one of the camp shows, dressed as a girl (a 'Belle') in a wig made out of Red Cross parcel string. The guards watched the show but didn't recognize him.

He was one of the 'Shadow Men' who were at large in the camp under assumed names. His was 'Victor Snow'. Some of the German guards were aware of the Shadow Men and would warn them if the Gestapo were planning to search the camp with dogs. The men would then hide under a hut used for disabled and ill POWs.

After recapture, Harry had to endure the 'Sweat Boxes' in the Disciplinaire, or Punishment Area. It was here that 'Pop' Dillon, a friend of Harry's, was shot in the head by a guard for accepting a drink of water through the barbed wire from another POW. Thankfully Pop survived.

Harry has fond memories of Eric Fearnside and Padre Ledgerwood, who helped to hide him in the camp. He also remembers a POW called the Chigargo Kid, whose back was covered with tattoos, and an Al Phillips from Pittsburg.

When in Stalag 18a he said they used to take the slats out of their beds for fire wood until they only had two slats left, one under their head and one under their bottom. And when  the Red Cross parcels used to come the Aussies would use the raisins and dates to make spirits in a still.

After his last escape and recapture, Harry was marched through Yugoslavia behind cattle trucks full of dead bodies. He still remembers the awful stench. In the mountains he was so exhausted that he was left for dead by the German guards, but was found by an old woman who took him in and nursed him back to health.

Once recovered, he joined a group of Partisans known as the Cheta Druga Brigado, who tried to take him to safety. Unfortunately they were overtaken by the Germans and all of the Partisans were shot.

Harry was then taken from camp to camp and ended up in Mooseburg, Bulgaria where he was tortured. He was finally liberated by General Patton's troops.

This last picture shows the reception he was given when he finally returned home to his village in Somerset.

 (Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.) 

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(Details supplied by Harry Hockey and his daughter, Allison.)

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