Lochbroom Folk

Lochbroom's Sacrifice in the Second World War

Page 18


Service No.
POW Camp
4th QO Cameron H
Hill, Stanley H
Oflag IX A/H
2 Argyle St, Ullapool
Royal Signals
Macleod, Alexander C
Stalag IV-C
"Moss" Ullapool
40th LAA RA
Macleod, Duncan
Stalag IV-C
West Shore St, Ullapool
Merchant Navy
Maclennan, Duncan
Mess Rm Boy
Milag Nord
Major 30031, POW No. 1437
Stanley Herbert Hill was born on 23rd June 1895 at Portsmouth, Hampshire, the son of Robert William Hill and Jessie, née Drew.  In 1901 the family was resident at 13 Constitution Square, Portsmouth, and Robert occupied as a clerk to an accountant.  In 1911 Stanley was boarding at Oakfield House, 8 Old Oak Road, Acton Vale, London, aged 15, a boy clerk in the Civil Service.  A Stanley Herbert Hill served as a Sergeant in WWI with the 15th Battalion, London Regiment, on the Western Front, in Macedonia and in Egypt, prior to demobilisation in March 1919.

On 23rd November 1921 Stanley (26) married Jessie Fowler (30) at 39 Lauder Road, Edinburgh.  They were both living at Inverness at the time, Stanley at 6 Glenhurquhart Road, and Jessie at 13 Kenneth Street.  Stanley was an Inland Revenue Officer, and Jessie employed as a shorthand-typist, daughter of Alexander and Jessie.  In 1925 they lived at 1 Victoria Park Road, Inverness.  By 1935 they were resident at 2 Argyle Street, Ullapool.

Stanley became the first Secretary of the Tennis Club, which was founded in 1936.

Stanley is on the right.  Photo courtesy of Peter Newling.

At the outbreak of WW2 Stanley signed on with the 4th Battalion, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, which fought in the Battle of Abbeville on 4th June 1940, just east of the 4th Seaforth Highlanders.  Stanley was second in command of the Battalion.  Much information can be found on the 51st Highland Division website.  


The 4th Camerons were based at the Chateau de Huchenneville and the Battalion's mission was to take the village of Mareuil-sur-Somme, to the north-east, and from there to prevent any enemy attempts to cross the river Somme to reinforce the bridgehead.  The Germans out fought the 51st Highland Division and by the end of the day both the 4th Seaforths and the 4th Camerons were down to 50 per cent of their fighting strengths so they retreated towards St Valery en Caux where they eventually surrendered.

Stanley was sent to prisoner of war camp Oflag IX at Hesse.  He was one of the men who were marched eastwards by the Germans on 29th March 1945.  The Americans liberated the camp’s inmates at Lengenfeld unterm Stein on 4th April.  It is recorded that General Victor Fortune, commanding officer of the 51st Highland Division was also imprisoned in the same camp

In 1945 Stanley was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Territorial decoration in recognition of his service with the Army Cadet Force at Inverness.  He retired from the army on 5th November 1945, retaining the rank of Major.

Joan Smith writing on the Facebook Page Ullapool Remember…. states that “Stanley was a customs officer who lived in Cuchullin [House, 10-11 West Argyle Street] with his wife Jay (Jessie).  They had two sons, Martin and Evan.”  Jay died in 1977 at Inverness.  Stanley died in 1988 at Mauchline, Ayrshire. 


Driver 2334919, POW No. 25925
HQ Signals 4th Anti-Aircraft Brigade

Alexander was born on 22nd May 1917 at Drumbeg, Assynt, son of Alexander a Free Church Missionary and Christina née Smith.  They had married on 24th November 1896 at Barvas, on the Island of Lewis, Ross-shire.  Alexander’s home address was Mossford, Ullapool.  Civilian Trade: Motor Driver.  He enlisted 15th February 1940.  According to the questionnaire which he completed on 13th May 1945, he received lectures on escape and evasion in Egypt in December 1940 from Major Gray.  Captured Tobruk 21st June 1942

EXTRACT FROM Ross-shire Journal: 21st August 1942
Signaller Alexander Macleod, RCOS, son of Mrs Macleod and the late Rev Mr Macleod, Mossford, Ullapool, posted missing on 17 June 1942, has written to his mother that he is a prisoner of war in Italy.  He states that he is in good health, is being well treated and has received a Red Cross parcel.  Handwritten note:  "Liberated 25 May 1945"

The first camp in which Alexander was imprisoned was Italy, Port San Georgio July 5 1942 to September 15 1943. 

A fellow inhabitant of such camp has written a very interesting report on his time there.

Extract from a report given by Philip Green, RAF: 
Camp No.70 Monturano, a mile or two from the sea and Porto San Georgio, proved to be a collection of hangar-like buildings which we learnt later had been constructed to contain wine making facilities. When we arrived, it was a thriving and bustling camp, housing a few thousand, mostly 'desert rats'.  The Italians had no separate camps solely for airmen as in Germany, NCOs and other ranks shared sleeping quarters and in most of the buildings two or three hundred men occupied one of the three-tiered bunks with requisite straw palliasse and sole blanket!  Fortunately, the construction of the buildings provided very high ceilings, ensuring at least, plenty of fresh air.

Our main preoccupation and topic was FOOD!  The rations supplied by the Italians were disgraceful, and but for the Red Cross, starvation would have ensued. There was one other supplier of sustenance and that, strangely enough came from home.  Families in the U.K. were able to send articles of clothing to their kin in Italy and Germany.  Known as Personal Parcels weighing no more than ten pounds were specified but they did not have to be all clothing or articles thereof, curiously one other item was allowed - chocolate, and so, I remember receiving in the only personal parcel that ever got to me in Italy, that contained two pairs of socks and NINE POUNDS OF CADBURY's Milk Chocolate!

Money had NO value in POW camps, in its place cigarettes became the standard currency, against which everything was reckoned.  Cigarettes were not included in Red Cross parcels but came separately, and rationed out accordingly. So life went on, and as in most camps people settled down to various activities, including classes for languages, accountancy, painting, play reading, and so on.  .

While these events were taking place there was far more drama in the outside world.  Following the exclusion of all German and Italian forces from North Africa, plans to invade Sicily and Italy began and it was in September 1943 that a landing was made at Salerno just below the Bay of Naples.  However, it seemed as though Italy was going to surrender, and indeed on a glorious day, we awoke to find that the Italian guards had vanished!  News too of the advance by the Eighth Army from the toe of Italy who were, we were told, advancing rapidly up our coast!  With the landings at Salerno, orders were given for POWS to remain in their camps until we were liberated.  Alas, all these rumours and false hopes came to nothing. A week passed, during which we had been free to roam the countryside, scrounging what we could from the local peasantry, eggs and picking lovely fresh apricots and peaches, not seen for a very long time, returning to the camp at night.

Then the blow fell, waking one morning to see grey-green uniforms surmounted by the horrid steel helmets of the Wehrmacht, and the realisation that the Germans had no intention of allowing the Allies an easy take-over of Italy.  We were marched down to the railway station at Porto San Georgio and in the time-honoured manner, herded into cattle trucks, (40 men or 8 horses). More like 50 or sixty were packed into these and for three days endured a melancholy journey that ended after crossing the Italian border into Austria, then Germany, our destination Stalag 1VB, Mulberg -am -Elbe our abode for the next eighteen months. 

Alexander also went to Stalag IV-B Mulberg: October 5th 1943-November 2nd 1943.
He was transferred to Stalag IV-C Toplitz: November 8th 1943-December 28th 1943 – Bystrice, Czech Republic.  He was then in a Working Camp at Brux January 5th 1944 -May 8th 1945 - General Labourer.

Following demobilisation, Alexander was employed as a Motor Hirer, living at the family home, “Moss”, Ullapool.  He died of pneumonia on 29th July 1954 at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness aged 31.  His father was deceased but his mother was still alive.  He is buried at Morefield Cemetery, Ullapool. His mother, Christina died on 12th September 1964.

Photo:  Bill Fraser


Gunner 2817354, POW No. 225626
40th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

Duncan (nickname Doungie) was born on 16th June 1910 at Point Street, Ullapool, the son of Murdo a fisherman and Alexina née McKenzie.  They had married on 23rd December 1897 in Lochbroom Parish.  Duncan enlisted on 15th June 1939, his occupation Fisherman. He lived at West Shore, Ullapool.   The Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment was raised on 17th October 1939 at Inverness.  He was captured near Gabes, Tunisia and was not wounded when captured.

Extract from War Diary of 40th Light AA. RA (TNA WO 169/9985)
30th March 1943 at Gabes.  Enemy aircraft over Gabes engaged by heavy and light A.A.

1st April:  R.H.Q. moved with Main 51 Division to MELAH OASIS, 10 miles north of Gabes.  Total distance travelled 11 miles.

2nd April.  Considerable activity by own fighters and bombers.  Digging party sent to dig gun pits in area to be occupied by the troop tonight.  All three trucks ran into the enemy lines and were subjected to heavy machine gun and mortar fire and called upon by 3 Italians with tommy guns to surrender.  Two O.Rs [other ranks] were seen to surrender and seven were unaccounted for.  The 7 O.Rs were still unaccounted for at the end of the month and therefore the whole 9 must be presumed to be prisoners of war.

Duncan suffered imprisonment in the following camps:

P.G. 66 Capua, Italy 12th April to 4th September 1943
The official Red Cross Report on this camp in May 1943 revealed the following:

"Capua is a very large camp used as a quarantine and transit camp and the strength varies from day to day. At the time of the visit there were 127 officers and 5,000 other ranks. It is situated in flat ground in a mild climate. A new officers' section is almost complete. It will consist of stone bungalows, with washroom, showers dining room and common room. At present the officers are housed in wooden huts.

Six out of eight sections for other ranks are complete. The remaining two sections are still under canvas, but they should all be in huts by now. Sanitary installations are well constructed and there is an ample supply of water. Electricity is now satisfactory. Each section has its own kitchen and the POWs prepare their own food.

Three Italian doctors and six Prisoner of War doctors work in the camp infirmary. There is an excellent de-lousing plant. There are two C of E chaplains and an Italian priest in the camp. Kitchen gardens extend between the barracks and also outside the camp. Pigs and rabbits are kept in the camp. A football ground and tennis courts are being made. Some clothing has been distributed by the Detaining Power, but stocks are needed as Prisoners of War arriving at the camp must be fitted out. There is a good stock of Red Cross parcels”.

Duncan  then spent the rest of the war at:

P.G. 73 Carpi Italy    6th September 11th September 1943
Spittal Austria    15th September to 19th September 1943
Stalag IV-B Mullberg  22nd September to 24th September 1943
Stalag IV-C Teplitz,    1st October 1943 to 16th May 1945
Working Camps: Columbus:  1st October 1943 to 20th December 1943 Labouring
                            Brux:     20th December 1943 to 16th May 1945 Labouring.

The largest detachment, of 8,000 men, was at Brüx working on the construction of the Sudetenländische Treibstoffwerke ("Sudetenland Fuel Works"), part of the state-owned industrial conglomerate. This plant was designed to process oil from coal, and as part of the Allied campaign to attack German oil production it was bombed several times between July 1944 and April 1945. 


Mess Room Boy, Merchant Navy
Served on British Petrol
POW No. 7524

Duncan was born on 10th January 1923, in the parish of Lochbroom, the eldest son of Alexander Maclennan (1882-1954) and Isabella Maclean (1886-1974) who had married on 16th March 1922 at Ardcharnich.  The family swiftly increased by the birth of Gregor Ewan Maclennan who was born on 8th December 1923, and another boy, Roderick (1925-1961).

During WW2 Duncan was serving on board the tanker British Petrol, a 6,906 ton vessel, built in 1925 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd of Newcastle.  


Ship British Petrol – Photo:courtesy of Photoship

Information obtained from the National Archives (BT 389/5/129) reveals that British Petrol arrived at Greenock on 14th March 1940, from Suez with a cargo of Fuel Oil.  It is suggested that Duncan joined this ship around this time in Scotland. 

Repairs were undertaken on the Clyde on 4th April.  The ship sailed for Abadan on 20th April but was in collision with the motor vessel Larchbank in fog in the Irish Sea so returned to the Clyde for further repairs.  She eventually set off for Trinidad from Greenock on 30th May, but her voyage was abruptly ended mid-June. The record of ship movements states “Presumed lost – overdue 15/7/40.  Sunk by surface raider 14/6, 20 degrees N, 50 degrees W (approx.).

Duncan’s Prisoner of War questionnaire states that he was captured on 13th June 1940 by the German Armed Merchant Raider Widder in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 nautical miles off Trinidad. British Petrol had a loss of two of her 46 crew.  The 44 survivors were taken as Prisoners of War and the tanker was scuttled the next day.  Duncan states that on arrival in France he was imprisoned in  a camp at Brest, followed by Quimper.  It is known that the Widder arrived at Brest on 31st October 1940, so it is assumed that he remained on board for all those months since 13th June.
Here are some details regarding the Widder obtained from an article “Marauders of the Sea, German Armed Merchant Ships During WW2

Widder : This vessel originally the "Neumark," from the stable of the Hamburg-Amerika Line, was a sister ship to "Orion." For her role as a Raider, she was christened "Widder" which means Ram.  She was equipped and armed in a similar manner as "Orion." However, she had but a limited sphere of operation, spending all her life in the central Atlantic. Due to be converted to "Raider status” by the end of November 1939, this ship had so many problems during trials - it was almost another 6 months, later in May I 940 before she finally became ready to go to work. The zone set out for "Widder" in which to operate was roughly halfway between the West lndies and Dakar in West Africa, 40 degrees North latitude and West of a longitude of 30 degrees West. Given command was Helmuth von Ruckteschell, a Naval Reserve Captain, who had very strict orders not to violate the pan-American neutrality zone that separated the West Indies and the South American coast.

When sailing from the Elbe on the 6th May in 1940, the "Widder" was immediately set upon by a British Submarine, but she avoided the 2 torpedoes fired at her.  Ruckteschell eventually managed to meet up with a supply ship, the "Konisburg" and took aboard sufficient oil for a 4 months stint on his station.

By early June, the 'Widder' was between the Azores and Trinidad, and for 3 days she patrolled towards Panama, then on the 13thth June, lookouts sighted smoke.  In time, it transformed into the tanker British Petrol 6,891 tons and making for Trinidad in ballast. On arrival, she would fill her huge tanks with much needed oil for transport back to Britain.

"Widder" opened fire at a range of 6,000 yards, hitting with her first salvo and the tanker was abandoned.  All the crew were rescued, except for two members killed by gunfire during the attack.  Shortly afterwards Widder encountered a Norwegian tanker “Krossfonn” of 9,000 tons, and in ballast.  This ship was boarded and despatched to Brest, recently having fallen into German hands.  [It could be that Duncan was transferred to this vessel, but there is no evidence to say so.]

It is recorded that Widder’s engines were constantly breaking down.  That is why it took so long for her to arrive back at Brest.

After his temporary stay at camps in France, Duncan spent the rest of the war in Stalag XXB at Marienburg, Stalag XXA at Thorne, and Stalag XB at Bremen.  He suffered from diphtheria whilst a POW but stated that he received adequate treatment.  He signed the Questionnaire on 5th May 1945 on release.

In 1952, at the age of 29 at Fodderty, Ross and Cromarty Duncan married Grace Margaret Maclennan.  His father died two years later on 19th August 1954, at which time Duncan was resident at Muir Cottage, Kellas, Elgin.  His mother died on 5th November 1974.

His brother Gregor Ewan Maclennan , Royal Navy Seaman, was killed on 18th October 1943, (see page 21).
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