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Jack Fawcus is in the picture attached front row second from left. The picture is taken at Gandale Camp, Catterick Garrison, North Yorks in June 1939. Jack was the Company Commander of 'C' Company 7th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers who went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940.

The Battalion was attached to the 51st Highland Division and was a Machine Gun Battalion (Vickers). After the German Invasion of France on May 10th, the Battalion was situated on the Maginot Line with the Division attached to the French Army. The Division then withdrew to the Somme area and tried to counterattack the Germans at Abbeville. This failed mainly due to the French and the unit was pushed back to St Valery en Caux.

They were still fighting the Germans when the Dunkirk evacuation took place ending on June the 4th. On June the 12th the Division under French Command was ordered to surrender being completely surrounded by Rommel.

Jack was in tears at the surrender but he was a very gutsy fellow. As a prisoner of war he caused the Germans a lot of problems and was sent to Colditz Castle. Due to illl health he was repatriated in 1943.

He was a Champion National Hunt jockey and was well known at the time. Originally from Northumberland he ended up running a stable in North Yorkshire and died in 1967.

There are quite a few Fawcus in Northumberland to this day. If you are interested there is a book written by Saul David called Churchills Sacrifice of the Highland Division which tells the story.

Jack Fawcus, front row, second from left

Major Chester Potts

Entirely British

In the summer of 1943, the camp [Oflag IV-C, at Colditz] became entirely British and prisoners from one of the large southern camps turned up, among whom were a number of old friends from VI-B. These officers had escaped by tunnel from their camp and had been recaptured. I don't know the details of the tunnel, but it was a remarkable engineering feat, being constructed in the one part of the camp which the Germans considered impossible. It was dug uphill.

At that time, it was the all-time record for numbers getting out in one escape and the repercussions were interesting. The Germans turned out the whole of their Home Guard for a considerable area around the camp. There were amusing stories about the chaps walking along quite confidently and suddenly, being held up by an old civilian with a duck gun. Many laughable incidents occurred when these escapees were collected in villages round about. They all had considerable quantities of British Red Cross food, chocolate, etc., such as the Germans had not seen for many years. In many cases they were entertained hospitably, while awaiting transport, by the locals, who brewed them tea and fried them eggs.The prisoners were determined that no food should get back into the hands of the camp authorities, so they distributed it among the villagers. There were wonderful scenes of children and villagers following the lorry conveying the prisoners, the British throwing all perishable foodstuffs for them to pick up. The camp authorities were incensed about this but could do nothing.

For a number of days these officers were shut in a sort of dungeon outside their camp and the Germans were extremely spiteful and unpleasant. For instance, Jack Fawcus, the steeplechase jockey, who, in spite of ill-health, had insisted on taking part in this escape, was refused medical treatment. By the time he arrived at Colditz, he was in a bad way.


Extract from 'Bader's Story In His Own Words', by Group Captain Douglas Bader

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