Stanley Alexander (Stan) Easton, Pte 4465708, 16th Durham Light Infantry
POW Number 81185 held in camp 344 Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf, Poland.
Stan was a Gateshead man who joined the DLI in July 1940 at the age of 29. Not sure if he was conscripted or a volunteer.
Before joining the regiment he worked as a monumental sculptor in the Gateshead/Newcastle area, and joined the regiment at Brancepeth Castle, trained at Folkestone and Scotland before been posted to North Africa. He probably took part in the Battle of Sedjenane, and was taken prisoner about the 2nd March 1943. After the war he maintained that the local Arabs were passing battle information to both the British and Germans for financial reward.
He was then transported across the Mediterranean Sea as a prisoner of the Italians: the POWs’ were battened down in the hold and whilst en route unsuccessful attempts were made to torpedo the ship by the Allies.
He was held in transit camps through Italy, Germany and finally to Camp 344 (Lamsdorf, Stalag 8B), whilst working in the camp he worked in a steel plant where he was made to move heavy girders etc., from A to B.
From the camp he had visual contact with compounds holding Russians, Slavs and Jews and was appalled at the treatment dished out to these unfortunate prisoners; he felt that the British POWs’ were well treated in comparison, and felt in general the German soldier guards treated him and his colleagues with respect bearing in mind the general conditions of a world war. He also stated that the British POWs’ would stand up to their guards and it usually took a German officer with a pistol to restore control over the situation.
On one occasion the works was badly bomb by aircraft and the POWs all scattered; my father and another POW were separated from the main work party and were making their own way back to the camp. They were stopped by a German Staff car and questioned by a high ranking German Officer; they explained the situation and convinced the officer that they had no maps, food or water; at this point the German Officer explained he had been educated at Durham University and enjoyed his stay in the city, and left them with a salute and good wishes for the future.
Stan was liberated by the Americans from his POW camp (not sure which one); the Russians etc., were turned loose and committed some appalling atrocities on the public. The British POWs were kept in the camp and looked after by the Americans until events had calmed down
He was then taken to an airport to be repatriated, and witnessed an aircraft crash on take off killing the POWs on board, however it didn’t stop the next batch getting on board the next airplane.
Stan was married to Flo and had 2 sons: he worked until he was 65, and enjoyed 20 years of retirement before his death in 1995 he is buried in Saltwell Cemetery, Gateshead where his headstone proudly displays’ the DLI badge.
Remembered with Honour by his proud family.
Received: May 2015
From: Brian Easton
On behalf of: Stanley Easton