Wednesday, 25 February 2015

52 Ancestors # 9 - Bernard Patrick (Pat) Connor - an uncle

This post is for Week 9 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge - 2015 - by Amy Johnson Crow from No Story Too SmallPrompt for Week 9, Close to Home  - I will write about my uncle Bernard Patrick (Pat) Connor. 

I did not know this uncle of mine but he died on my birthday 27th April 1999 in Brisbane - so he is Close to Home. Pat Connor was born on the 7th December 1919 in Carrington, a suburb of Newcastle, NSW. The youngest of eight Connor children to Arthur and Dorothy nee Vero, Pat lost his mother to breast cancer when he was only three years old and his eldest sister Mary Kathleen (Kath) took on the role of mother and housekeeper for the family.

Somehow Pat was in Adelaide, South Australia in March 1940 working as a Butcher's Improver when he enlisted in the Australian Army, he was 20 years and 3 months old. Pat was given the Service # SX2068 and joined the 2/3 Field Regiment Battery, 2nd A.I.F. and embarked from Melbourne for overseas in August 1940 and disembarked in Palestine on the 27th October of that year. He was sent on strength to the 6th Australian Division Artillery Traning Regiment and while there managed to have a couple of offences such as - conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline - in that on one occasion he was improperly dressed and on another that he had by neglect lost his military clothing and necessities - for this Pat served 27 days detention and 6 days confined to barracks. Pat then underwent weapons training and passed the course. He joined the 2/3 Field Regiment Battery, 6th Australian Division, 2nd A.I.F. and embarked on the S.S. Pennland on the 31st March 1941 for Crete.

ID Tag - Wikipedia

Pat was reported Missing in Action (M.I.A.) on the 6th June 1941 and believed to be a Prisoner of War on the 27th June that year.  Those that were captured were first sent to Salonica before being sent to a number of prisoner of wars camp in Germany, Italy and Austria.
This was confirmed on the 28th October 1941 that he was interned in Stalag VII-A, one of Germany's largest prisoner-of-war camps during World War II, located just north of the town of Moosburg in southern Bavaria. This was confirmed by the International Red Cross.
Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf - plan

Pat was moved to Stalag VIII-B by the 19th June 1943. Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf was a notorious German Army prisoner of war camp, later renumbered Stalag-344, located near the small town of Lamsdorf (now called Ćambinowice) in Silesia (Wikipedia). As the Russian Army advanced so were POW's moved about. It is not clear when Pat was moved to Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel, but he was liberated from there in April 1945.

While prisoners, numerous escape attempts were made by men from the 2/3rd, although ultimately only four men successfully avoided a recapture following their escape.  I wonder if Pat was one of those who tried to escape - I like to think he was.

Dominion Monarch
Pat arrived in the UK as a 'recovered POW' from Western Europe in April 1945 and embarked for Australia from Liverpool on board the Dominion Monarch in May of  1945. He arrived in Sydney on 19th June 1945. How I wonder what he thought at the time - there was no counselling or much support given to ex-POWs - they just 'got on with life' the best way they could and never spoke of the war.
Uncle Pat went on to have three daughters in Newcastle, NSW and died on my birthday in 1999 - so 'close to home'.

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