Corporal Nelson George Thacker, 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (1915-1994)

From the Evesham Journal 21 March 1942

I recently saw on Facebook an image taken from the Evesham Journal of British prisoners of war in Stalag VIII-B (Stalag 344) Lamsdorf, Germany, in the 1942 (see image). Amongst the prisoners in the photo was Corporal Nelson George Thacker from Evesham (back row 3rd from left). The post piqued my interest as I have researched some of the men from the area that have served in either the First or Second World War so I decided to see what I could discover about Corporal Thacker.

Nelson George Thacker (1915-1994)

Known as George, he was born in Evesham on 28th September 1915. His parents, Percy John Thacker and mother, Sarah Jane (née Hampton), had married in Evesham late in 1914. His mother was from Bengeworth in Evesham and worked at the local jam factory. His father was a journeyman baker and the family lived at 4 Mill Street, Evesham. George had a younger brother, Frederick born in 1917 who died, aged 7, in 1924. His mother gave birth to a third son, Douglas, in 1927 but he also did not survive infancy.

George was named after his father’s brother Nelson Thacker (1892-1915). Just before George was born his Uncle Nelson had embarked for France having enlisted as a Private with the 1st Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). Less than two months’ later, whilst fighting on the Western Front Private Nelson Thacker was killed in action on 13th October 1915, and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and the Evesham War Memorial.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, George enlisted with the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and in 1942, whilst in France, was captured by the German Army. The Evesham Journal reported on 21st March 1942 that George was a Prisoner of War in Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf.

Around 210 men from the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment are known to have been imprisoned in Stalag VIII-B at some point during the war. The stalag was the largest German Army prisoner of war camp in the Third Reich with thousands of prisoners, mostly Russian but with a smaller camp of some 16,000 prisoners from Britain, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. The camp was located in the north east near Oppeln on the River Oder in Silesia near what was then the German Polish border. At the end of 1943 Lamsdorf was designated Stalag 344 and a sub-camp at Teschen, some 125 km to the south east, became the new Stalag VIII-B.

Stalag 383, Hohenfels, Germany

According to the Worcestershire Regiment’s records Lt/Cpl 1873046 Thacker was imprisoned in Stalag 383 as PoW 15320. Fellow serving soldiers from his battalion; Corporals H.H. Taylor, D.E. Williams, R.P. Evans and Sergeants C. Sargerson and R.W. Seager are recorded as being PoWs in the camp at the same time as George.

It was not unusual for prisoners to be transferred between camps. Private Les Foskett who served with The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, had been a prisoner at Stalag VIII-B in 1941 and was transferred to Stalag 383 a few months later so it is likely that George and a number of others were transferred between the two camps at some stage and that he may not have been in Stalag VIII-B for long. Click here for Les Foskett’s story.

Stalag 383 was located in Bavaria between Nuremburg and Regensberg in Germany. Until late 1942, the prisoners in the camp endured conditions what have been described by another PoW as bad but once the Swiss Red Cross became involved, and Red Cross clothing and food parcels supplemented PoW camp rations, the lives the PoWs improved and the camp was described as “far less depressing than Lamsdorf”. A Swedish delegate who visited the camp on the occasion of the centenary of the YMCA in July 1944 stated that he had seen “no better camp in Germany” (see extracts from the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, 1939-1945 for prisoners’ descriptions of the camp). The PoWs were released from Stalag 383 in early May 1945 by the American Army.

After his release, George returned home to Evesham. Following his discharge from the army in he started working as a Postman with Evesham Post Office in 1946 and he later joined the Evesham Town Silver Band. He married Gertrude Cynthia Padfield, known as Cynthia (of Burford Road, Evesham), at St Lawrence Church, in 1947. George died in 1994 and his wife, Cynthia, died aged 87, on 26th January 2012 and is buried in Waterside Cemetery, Evesham. Before her death Cynthia lived on Isbourne Crescent, Evesham.

If anyone has any information about George Thacker that could be added to this article then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

 

Sources:
http://www.ancestry.co.uk
Evesham Journal
The Diary of Alan Forster, POW 3921, Stalag VIIIB (October 1944 — May 1945) by Bill Forster
http://www.worcestershireregiment.com

 

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Broadway Remembers Gallipoli

The Gallipoli Campaign began 100 years ago today on 25th April 1915. This year, the hundreds of thousands of men from across the world who fought and died at Gallipoli a century ago are being remembered and we remember the following men of Broadway who died during the campaign, part of the Middle Eastern Theatre of the First World War. All of the following Broadway men are commemorated on the Helles Memorial on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula:

  • Private 19218 Richard K. Handy 9th Battalion Worcstershire Regiment, born in Broadway in 1883, who was killed in action, aged 32, on 4th November. Private Handy is also commemorated on the Evesham War Memorial.
  • Private 21387 Wilfred G. Scrivens 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, born in Broadway in 1885, who was killed in action, on 6th August 1915 and is also commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial.
  • Private  19365 Walter E. Spiers 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, born in Broadway in 1884, who died at sea, aged 31, on 31st August 1915. Private Spiers is also commemorated in St Peter’s Church, Inkberrow, Worcestershire.
  • Private 10754 Wilfred G. Tandy 9th (Service) Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, born in Broadway in 1885, who was killed, aged 30, by enemy fire whilst refilling his water bottle at a nullah on 7th August 1915. Private Tandy is also commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial.

 

Helles Memorial (Commonwealth War Graves Commission0

Helles Memorial (Commonwealth War Graves Commission

 

Further information about the men from Broadway commemorated on the war memorial on the village green can be found in ‘Broadway Remembers’ (a not-for-profit publication published to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by the Imperial War Museum. Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal).

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

© Debbie Williamson and Broadway Remembers, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Debbie Williamson and Broadway Remembers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Broadway Men Commemorated on the Evesham War Memorial

The Evesham War Memorial on the slopes of Abbey Park between the River Avon and the Bell Tower, was unveiled and dedicated by the Vicar of Evesham at 3pm on Sunday 7th August 1921 following a parade of 500 ex-servicemen along the High Street to the park. Present at the ceremony was: The Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, The Right Hon. The Earl of Coventry PC; The High Steward of Evesham, Commander B.M. Eyres Monsell RN, MP; Mrs Haynes-Rudge; The Lord Mayor, various town officials and over 5,000 people.

The war memorial, on a site given by the Rudge family (who once owned a large portion of the abbey estate) was designed by Mr H.E. Dicks. It is built of Cotswold stone with sculpture (a bronze figure of a soldier) by Henry Poole RA. The memorial has the date 1920 as the date of the end of the war inscribed on it. This is because the Worcestershire Regiment were sent out to Russia after the armistice where peace was not declared until 1920. The memorial was cleaned and refurbished by the Town Council with the help of the War Memorials Trust during the summer of 2014.

Amongst the men and women of both world wars commemorated on the memorial is Private 5767 William Harold Gabb who was the first soldier born in Broadway, Worcestershire, to die in the First World War. William, born in 1880, served with the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards and died on 7th November 1914 on the Western Front. William is also commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Private 19218 Richard Keyte Handy is also commemorated on the memorial. Richard was born in Broadway in 1883 and attended Broadway First School. He moved to Evesham, where he worked as a builder’s labourer, after his marriage to Sarah Ann Hartwell in 1905. Richard served with the Worcestershire Regiment and was posted to Gallipoli where he died on 4th November 1915. Richard is also commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers (ISBN 978-0-9929891-0-1)
Raising money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal