Lancashire At War.co.uk
Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire
Ian, of Aircrashsites.co.uk has an interesting story about a death at Glen Mill:
"The April 2013 issue of Britain at War magazine tells the story of prisoner Paul Hartmann who was shot dead by Gunner J A Jaffray in February 1945. The incident came after a roll call lasting hours and during which the Germans had obstructed the counting to cover up an escape attempt."
You can read the full story on his page:
David Lonergan contacted us as he had heard this story and had researched it in local newspapers. He kindly sent us copies of the articles he found - many thanks, David. What is interesting is that some of the accounts seem to include propaganda and myths that were probably widely circulated at the time.
The following is David's research:
Erich Breuss was Austrian and was seconded into the German Army when he was about 16 years old. (He was born in 1926)
He was wounded at Normandy (1944), was captured and hospitalised and ended up in a POW camp in England.
Seven prisoners escaped (from Glen Mill camp) on Wednesday 7th Feb 1945. Eventually four were picked up near Leeds and two at Wakefield. The other prisoner, Erich Breuss, was picked up at Castleton, Rochdale after being spotted asleep in the waiting room of Castleton Station by a lady porter.
In my research I managed to get in touch with both the sons of Erich Breuss and the Lady porter who reported him to the police.
I am not sure what date Erich Breuss left Glen Mill but I have Red Cross records showing he was repatriated from Prisoner of War Camp No. 409 on 2nd November 1946. This camp was situated at Wolterton Hall in Norfolk. This fits in with what his son told me, that his Father was involved in Farm work and that he was treated very well. He also told me his Father tried to escape a second time but I have drawn a blank on this second attempt.
With regard to the other prisoners that escaped with Erich Breuss I have not been able to find what their names were.
It was as a direct result of this escape that the Roll call at Glen Mill took place and at which the young German soldier Paul Hartmann was shot dead by one of the guards.
Can anyone help David name the other escapees? Please get in touch if you have any more information on this story.
BELOW: The newspaper reports from 1945
Glen Mill, Oldham. This former cotton mill became a Prisoner Of War camp in the Second World War. Unlike its near neighbours in Bury (Warth, Burrs, Lowercroft) there are some "official" photographs of it. They are reproduced here thanks to the Imperial War Museum.
German POWs repair a barbed wire fence at Glen Mill Prisoner of War camp, Oldham, England on Christmas Eve, 1940
German POWs taking vegetables harvested from the camp garden to the cookhouse at Glen Mill prisoner of war camp, Oldham, on Christmas Eve.
German POWs working in the vegetable garden at Glen Mill prisoner of war camp, Oldham on Christmas Eve, 1940.
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