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Interview with John Stevenson about his service in the Manx Regiment during the Second World War

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Date(s): 2000s

Scope & Content: Track 1: John Stevenson talks about rumours of war when he was working at Corlett Sons & Cowley; signing-up with friends with a feeling of duty and adventure; leaving home for billet at Aintree Racecourse; being sent to Lower Darwin, Blackburn to defend ball bearing factory; sent to Gloucester aircraft factory where hurricanes were made; moving to St Agnes on the south coast and receiving first buffer gun; ill health necessitating return to Weymouth and becoming a despatch rider.

He describes Plymouth and Portsmouth in the Blitz and tells an anecdote about an unexploded bomb; re-grouping to Glasgow for embarkation to Middle East; Manxmen marrying two sisters from Lower Darwin. He talks about the journey to Port Said on the 'Straithaird' with 2000 Australian troops; poor conditions on G deck; Australians’ treatment and behaviour; encampment near the Pyramids; going to Crete with transport section; mass plane attack; courage of New Zealanders and the Battle of Crete; stationed at Souda Bay; evading escape; missing last evacuation ships and eventual capture; marching to Chania; dysentery; being evacuated to Germany via Salonica; poor conditions, work assignments and escape attempts; being transported, 40 men per rail truck, for 7-8 days; arriving in Luckenwalde; moving to small camp in Berlin named ‘Rudo’ with Northumberland Hussars; shortage of food; prisoners’ tasks; how rations were apportioned; cared for by friend; stealing briquettes.

Track 2: John talks about being moved to Staaken with his friend Murphy and then to camp in Berlin; negotiating with German troops for favours; allies bombing barracks; moving to Waldheide, ex-German workers camp with swimming pool; being transported to Innsbruck, Austria in cattle trucks; stopping at Middelburg, being told to go to Kemmlitz, Saxony and an unsuccessful revolt; working in paper mill in Crossan/Mulde with access to international news; discipline and food; seeing the bombing of Dresden; arrival of American tank; chaotic end of war; [11 min. 3 sec. racist term]; arriving at Gossa; journey to Le Havre, Abingdon and home to the Isle of Man.

Language: English

Extent: 56 min. 15 sec.

Item name: mini disc

Collection: Sound Archive

Level: ITEM

ID number: SA 0529

Access conditions: All reasonable attempt has been made by Manx National Heritage to trace and request permission (where needed) from the copyright holder(s) in this sound recording. If however you think you are a rights holder then please contact Manx National Heritage.

Subject tags : #UOSH, #UOSHSecondWorldWar


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