Stalag VIIIB Evacuated, January 1945
As the Russian Army approached the Allied POW camps during January 1945, Hitler made an order that all the camps should be evacuated and the POWs forced-marched Westwards away from the approaching Russian troops, towards Germany. The majority of Stalag VIIIB inmates were marched for more than 450 miles on a route through Czechoslovakia skirting to the North of Prague, ending their journey 3 months later in April 1945. It had been the coldest winter for many years and there was deep snow. The conditions on the Long March were notorious and have been well-recorded elsewhere.
Lance Bombardier West
We have no definite information about my fathers’ route, other than it included Czechoslovakia and that the behaviour of his guards improved as they approached the German frontier. He told us that he was liberated by the advancing American army in April 1945.
Gunner Eric Johnson’s journey was also though Czechoslovakia, he was also liberated by American forces and flown to Rheims before his repatriation to England at approximately the same time.
Map showing approximate main routes taken by Allied POWs on the Long March, including a route from Lamsdorf, Stalag 344 (or Stalag VIIIB)
My fathers’ Liberation Questionnaire dated 30th April 1945. This was probably completed in a reception area either in Germany or Belgium.
Very sadly it appears that one 140th Regiment soldier died while still in captivity at the end of his Long March, having arrived in Southern Germany, towards the end of World War Two and after enduring three months of forced marching. Gunner George Lucas, a 45-year-old married man from Shifnal, Shropshire died on the 22nd March 1945 and is buried at the the Durnbach Commonwealth War Cemetery, Bavaria, Germany