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 Men appear before Military Tribunals in Evesham

During the First World War, the passing of the Military Service Act in January 1916 enforced compulsory military service. As a result, single men and widowers without children aged 18-41 years were now liable to serve in the Army as long as they were not in a reserved occupation. The Act was extended in May of that year to cover both single and married men and in 1918 was extended to include men up to 51 years of age.

As a result of compulsory conscription, a series of Military Service Tribunals were established to hear applications and appeals for exemption from those with reasons not to serve in the Army. For men in Broadway, the Tribunals were held in Evesham.

The reasons for seeking exemption needed to fall in one of seven categories; employment or educational studies that were of greater national importance, domestic circumstances, conscientious objection and medical reasons.

William Joseph Keyte (1884-1974)

hommedia.ashxIn 1917, following compulsory conscription, William Joseph Keyte of Broadway, who was 33 years of age and working as a jobbing builder and decorator, finally passed his army medical with a Grade 3C. William had previously been rejected by the Army on three occasions.  He was now considered fit for service but only for clerical duties. Represented by Mr J.W. Roberts, William appealed his conscription on the basis that he would have to close his business if he enlisted as he had already lost one of his men to the war.

William appeared before Lieutenant Shelmerdine (who served with the RFC during WW1) at a Tribunal in Evesham. William stated during his appeal that there were a number of C3 single men in Broadway who did not have their own businesses who had not been called up and that he was married with three young children to support. William’s cousin, Harold Keyte, also a jobbing builder employed by many of the farms in Broadway, had passed Grade 1 fitness, however, he had received total exemption. William went on to explain that his cousin, Harold, would in spite of his employment be unable to support William’s family in his absence.

The Tribunal granted William full exemption from service during the war. His younger brother Charles Hubert Keyte, had served with the 3rd Battalion, Worcetershire Regiment, and was killed in action in France on 22nd August 1916 and is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial.

William Stephens (b. 1886)

Aged 31, William Stephens of New Cottages, Leamington Road, Broadway, had been granted exemption on November 29th 1916. At the time he was working as a rabbit catcher for Mr Jackson in Broadway. His certificate of exemption was reviewed in 1917 at the request of the local National Service Representative as he was known to be no longer engaged in the same occupation. At his Tribunal, William stated that he was still catching rabbits and that he could get plenty of work on the land in and around Broadway. William who was single had passed Grade 2 at his medical. William lost his appeal and his exemption from service was withdrawn.

It is not known where or with which regiment William served. William was the son of Thomas and Louisa Stephens of Buckland.

 

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembered Today: Pte 203259 William Bishop, 10th (Service) Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

William Bishop was born in 1888 in Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire, the son of Thomas and Sarah Ann Bishop. William, a builder’s labourer, married Fanny Malin in Broadway in 1914 and they settled in the village.

William enlisted with the Worcestershire Regiment in Evesham and was posted to France with the 10th (Service) Battalion where he served on the Western Front. On 22nd March 1918, during the Battle of St Quentin, William, aged 29, was declared as missing in action during the counter-attack on Doignies. His body was later recovered and he is buried at Beaumetz Cross Roads Cemetery, Beaumetz-le-Cambrai, France. Pte William Bishop is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial.

Football for the Worcestershire Regiment Lads

At the end of February 1915, whilst stationed at Worcester, Private W.C. Bailey of the 2/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment appealed via the Evesham Journal newspaper for funds to purchase a football for the Evesham lads in the battalion.

By the first post the following day, the Evesham Journal had received a cheque in the sum of 8s 6d from John Jacques Jnr of Broadway and a football was immediately purchased. A couple of days later, Pte Bailey wrote the following letter of thanks:

“I beg you to accept on behalf of the Evesham and district lads in the 2nd 8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment our most hearty thanks for the part you have played in helping us to get a football. The ball arrived tonight and my mates and myself are very pleased with it. I have written to Mr Jacques by this post to thank him for his kindness though I am afraid I did not it very well for I am a very poor one at letter writing.”

Mrs Lee of Evesham who was staying in Llandudno at the time, sent in a cheque for 10s which was returned by the Evesham Journal with a thank you note stating if they received a further request for a football they would at once contact her.

The 2/8th Battalion moved to Chelmsford in April 1915 and then on to Salisbury Plain in February 1916. The battalion arrived in France on 24th May 1916 and served on the Western Front during the First World War with the183rd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division until 6th February 1918 when the battalion transferred to the 182nd Brigade.

 

Broadway Remembers

October 2013