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Cyril Crawford

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Cyril Crawford

Cyril Crawford

Driver RASC, T186825, 1940-1945

POW, Stalag 18a, Austria, POW Number 1428, 1941-1945

The following information has been researched from Cyril’s military records in conjunction with a suitcase full of photographs and postcards which he collected during his travels with the British Army during the war. Research as been a long task as Cyril never talked about any details of his military service to his family.

A special thank you must go to Ian Brown (see links page), for his help in piecing together the various Stalag 18a work camps from the photographs depicting Cyril’s four years as a POW in Austria.

Cyril at the age of 32 volunteer to enlist in the army 3rd May 1940 and following a medical on May 13th 1940 with the Territorial Army at Sutton, Surrey was attested to the Royal Army Service Corps at the rank of Driver on the 3rd June 1940 having attended No 135 Coy No 4 Driver Training Centre R.A.S.C.

The following dates show Cyril’s movements along with some information about the places he served or was held prisoner.

More information will be added to this list as it is gathered form the large amount of snippets we have compiled.


Posted to 211 company R.A.S.C. as a driver. (Taken from military records)
2nd armoured brigade, 1st armoured division (Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)


Present at unit 211 Company R.A.S.C. (Taken from military records)


Embarked on ship from U.K. (Taken from military records)


Andes sailed out of Liverpool as part of a convoy.


Convoy arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, not allowed ashore.


Convoy sailed from Freetown.


Convoy crossed the Equator.


Convoy arrived Durban, South Africa.

A post card of Durban has the following notes on the back.

“Andes. Electric Power – 7am passed salt baths – Christmas – Letters home – The fine bakery and kitchen – Radio + Records. Submarines, changed course depth charges and guns.


Jelly Fish Rail Tractor Ice Cream. Teas. Crickets. Rickshaws. Beer. Preparing for christmas. War effort Trolleys no buses Palm Trees Modern Buildings. south beach. Ovington Court. Surf American style. All lights on no blackout now. Ships lights on. On guard. The route march. lager and salmon refreshment (Ice cold). Heat intense. Double decker trolley fine cars. Had tropical gear on. South African flag. C to C cigarette + Cards cheapness of tobacco.


Convoy sailed from Durban.


Convoy arrived at Port Suez and anchored for a few hours.


Convoy entered the Suez Canal in the early hours

Suez + Desert (taken from back of Durban Postcard)

Terrific Canal. Irrigated Land. Convoy RASC Bags. Post-card View. Railroad + canal. Turning cold as we proceed (Winter) Flying sand. Port-Said. Freighter unloading coal. Dirty looking docks. Took on Oil. Egyptians selling wares, silks, moccasins, fruit, handbags (Choc 4 pieces in box). Disembarkation Egyptians carrying kit to station. Snack rolls Bis (sic) and boiled eggs. Waiting. Train whistles, large carriages, wood seats. Journey Tahag Ismalia. March in dusk to camp. On guard first night. Earnie brought us cup of tea twice. Comes in and out all night (see 2)”

Maybe there is a second card but it has not been found yet.


Disembarked in Egypt. (Taken from military records)

A postcard of Port-Said – The Harbour, has the following written on the back by Cyril. “Disembarked from the Andes at 10am. Did not have chance to see the town. Went straight to the railway station at the dockside Wednesday Jan 1st 1941”


“Embarked here for Sollum.” (on back of Alexandria postcard)


From Postcard of The Pyramid of Cheope – Cairo. “Visited 5/2/41, 451ft High, 3733BC Completed, 30 Years to build, covers 13 acres ground,”

From postcard Cairo – the Sphinx and Pyramids. “Visited 5/2/41 Nose of Sphinx shot off by Napoleon with cannonball”

Also taken from a postcard of Cairo – Soloman Pacha Street (date unknown) ” Passed here many times. Y.M.C.A. have luxurious tea gardens and lounge in this street. Had very enjoyable times here”


“Arrived back here from Bardia (sic)” (taken from back of Alexandria postcard).


Taken from a postcard Cairo Mamelouk Tombs and Citadel “Dead City, the greater part of the population was wiped out by the great plague a few years ago. All the buildings were shut up and the remainder of the inhabitants left. Gravestones are to be seen everywhere. In the background the Citadel can be seen on the right. Passed through on a lorry 19/2/41”

Taken from a postcard Cairo – The Citadel. “Passed here in a lorry Wed February 19th 1941. The Citadel can be seen for miles it is on the edge of Dead City. The Citadel is now a military hospital (British).”


Embarked on HMS Gloucester from Egypt. (taken from military records)

The following information taken from writing on the back of a postcard bought on board by Cyril.

“Went on board at 9am Thursday March 6th. She is a very fast ship.
Disembarked on the 7th 22 hours later. She covered the 700 miles from Alexandria to Piraeus (Port of Athens) in 22 hours at an average speed of 32knots. Carried one seaplane. This cruiser sunk when wave after wave of enemy bombers exhausted her ammunition supply. Defenceless she was an easy pray. Went down May 22nd 1941 with the loss of 720 lives. HMS York and HMS Bonaventure of the same class also have gone down”


Disembarked in Greece. (taken from military records)


Reported missing from 1st Armoured Brigade Company. (Taken from military records)


Captured at Kalamata, Greece. (Taken from military records)

Then held at the British POW camp at Corinthia, Greece before being moved to Stalag 18a, Wolfsberg, Austria. Stalag 18a at Wolfsburg was a clearing camp and any persons below the rank of NCO / WO were sent out to work in working parties (Arbeitskommando) that were based in smaller camps in the surrounding areas. Over 300 working parties were attached to Stalag 18a many consisting of small groups of between 15 and 50 prisoners.

Grandad Stalag 18a small

Photo taken as Cyril entered the Stalag 18a POW camp in Wolfsberg.


An official letter was sent to Florence Crawford on this date saying that Cyril was posted as missing on 28/4/1941.


Postcard sent to Florence from Cyril. This is a pre printed postcard saying that he is a prisoner of war and will write soon. This card is postmarked and then stamped by the Red Cross. There is a date stamp on 30/6/1941 and a second postmark in Geneve, Switzerland on 3/7/1941.

30/6/1941 to 4/7/1941

Stalag XVIIA Wolfsberg main holding camp. (Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)

5/7/1941 to 30/7/1941

Trieseldorf near Spittal (I expect this could be Tresdorf im Molltal near Obervellach). This camp worked on road making. (Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)

1/8/1941 to 11/11/1941

Moltel near Spittal (again I expect this is Molltal). This camp worked in a quarry. (Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)


Not to sure to why he is here when the dates above show that he should be in Molltal.

“Left Edling (Spittal A.D. Drau)”. From a postcard showing the “view from our barracks at Edling” dated 6th August 1941.

This camp was based on raised ground above the village of Edling (Now a suburb of Spittal a. d. Drau). The barracks were an existing building and not the temporary wooden huts we are used to seeing in the camps. The Abr. Kdo. number of this camp is not known but a Red Cross report from this camp tells that the prisoners were working on a road construction. About this time the new B100 road was constructed through the Drau Valley and it is thought that the prisoners were employed in this work.

Also on this date a letter was sent from the army records centre to Florence Crawford confirming that Cyril was a Prisoner of War at the British POW camp at Corinthia, Greece. It looks like the official records ran some way behind the times due to the time taken for information to reach the official channels from abroad.


Prisoner Of War. (Taken from military records).

12/11/1942 to 7/4/1942

Mind near Spittal (Once again I expect this could be Gmund). This camp worked on road making.(Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)

Believed to be present in a work camp at Gmund, Austria. (see pictures of playing cards with good luck messages from fellow prisoners)

9/4/1942 to 7/8/1942

Moved to Arb. Kdo. no 10106. This work camp was based in the village of Ferndorf in Austria and the prisoners worked in a Heraklit factory in the village. The factory is still operational today.


Diagnosed with an abscess of the left ear


Moved to Spittal A.D. Drau Hospital for treatment. (Taken from German POW records for Stalag 18a). This camp was used throughout the war first designated as Stalag 18B later Stalag 18A/Z for military prisoners and Ilag 18 for civilian prisoners.


Moved back to work camp 10106 at Ferndorf.

8/8/1842 to 5/5/1945

Moved to Abr. Kdo no 11079, Mallnitz or Obervallach, Austria, working in a cement works. Both camps were given the designation 11079 but research points to the fact that Cyril was based at Obervellach where the prisoners were first working in a cement works and later in a electricity power station.

Pictures taken at Obervellach show both Cyril and the camp’s man of confidence G S Leadbetter standing against lines of concrete slabs. The slabs look like they could have been used in the building of railway platforms amongst other uses.

The power stations were plentiful in this area of the Moll valley where water was taken from the lakes in the mountains through pipes to run turbines in the generating stations. Obervellach has two such stations one on each side of the valley taking water from the mountains by separate pipelines.

He worked as a gardener, carpenter and painter. (Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)

On 5 May 1945 troops of the 8th army entered Obervellach and liberated all the POW in our w/camp there.
On 6 May 1945 we were taken by truck first to Spittal and then to Villach.
On 13 May 1945 we were enplaned at Klagenfurt and the same day arrived in Naples at No 2 allied P.W Relay Camp. (Taken from the general questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of war)


POW Germany. (taken from military records)


Arrived back in U.K. (Taken from military records)


Discharged from Military Service. (Taken from military records)


This is not the end of the story as this page will be updated as more notes are read and the information pieced together. Keep a lookout for the gallery which we will endeavour to fill with Cyril’s photographs and an unusual memento of his prison life the playing cards each with a special message from one of his fellow prisoners.

Click to view Playing Cards.