My uncle, John Thomas ‘Sandy’ Saunders (1st. Batt. The Tyneside Scottish, Black Watch) was captured in France on 27th May, 1940, and he died Friday, 21st July, 1944. He was shot by a guard, along with another prisoner, after an argument over the cutting and stacking of wood, whilst working in a forest. The War Office indicated he was buried in Poppelau (now Popielow) Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Grave 1. According to Sydney Sherriff, R.S.M., Tommy was buried with full military honours on 25th July. But the grave was never identified and consequently, we have not been able to erect a headstone.
I would be extremely interested to hear from anyone who knew him or any information about a known grave. He is the ‘Midlander’ mentioned on page 34 of Arthur Evans book ‘Sojourn in Silesia’ – though he came from Bishop Auckland, Co Durham. Also, who was the other POW shot?
“A lad from the Midlands was called ‘Sandy’ because of his fair hair and eyebrows. He possessed a youthful, fresh complexion and was always smilling and good humoured. Sadly, late in 1944, when on a working party in the forest, he failed to restart work quickly enough to suit the guard, who shot him through the head.” Sojourn in Silesia
This young man’s real name was Tommy Saunders, (first photo, back row, third from left) and he was, in fact, from Bishop Auckland, not the Midlands. But, tragically, his grave has never yet been found, despite his family’s efforts to find it. So if you think you may know something which would help Tommy’s family in this respect, please contact us.
Here are two photos of Tommy, or ‘Sandy’, and his friends:
Received: November 2004
From: Tom Hutchinson
On behalf of: Tommy ‘Sandy’ Saunders