Late last month Robert Newton of Hillsboro, Oregon, provided me with a list of many POWs who, until now, have not been included on the master Camp 59 Prisoner List.
Robert’s uncle, Corporal Robert A. Newton, was a prisoner in Camp 59, (this site has several posts concerning him), and Robert has conducted years of research into WWII POWs. In fact, I found among my own father’s papers after he passed away in April 2000, letters Robert had sent to him in 1992!
Robert explained, “I either corresponded with these vets or their family members, or met them personally, or heard about them from other escapees. For example, Ken Lightbody told me that he spent nine months on the run with J. B. Tackett.
“Most of my contacts were 20 years ago, so most have since left the stage.
“As you noted, the official records are ambiguous and simply state that a POW returned to allied control. I have enjoyed trying to find out as much as possible to advance the history of these brave men.
“I can clear up the mystery of Keith Argraves for you. [On the Camp 59 site] you queried, ‘Did Keith Argraves escape from Camp 59 and was he recaptured and sent to Stalag 3B Furstenburg–Brandenburg?’
“The answer to both questions is yes. Argraves is one of the most interesting escapees. Over the years a number of escapees have asked me about him. Research was somewhat complicated by the fact that they were identifying him as ‘Hargraves.’
“Anyhow, Keith was a paratrooper and medic. He was among several U.S. paratroops and British SAS in the camp. At that time, those guys were the military elite and the other men really admired them. But Argraves was particularly inspirational and encouraging to the others. He was also very religious (Seventh Day Adventist). He did escape from Camp 59 and had a series of harrowing adventures before being recaptured. He did see other allied soldiers executed.
“He wrote a book about his adventures called Keith Argraves: Paratrooper. He escaped with another paratrooper named Warren Decker and Decker was the source of my information, since Argraves was deceased at the time of my contact with Decker. Argraves was from Portland, Oregon, and died in Klamath Falls, Oregon.”
“Here are some other Camp 59 escapees you may want to check out and include on your list.”
Joseph C. Ainsworth
Clair A. Baum
William L. Davidson
Ralph De Salvo
R. J. Downes
Alvin E. Froehlich
Edward R. Herman
Charles L. Holtzman
Leo E. Keating
Jesse D. Lipscomb
Joseph P. Meredith
Zulah D. Ray
Kenneth G. “Bull” Seldon
Tevis T. Skinner
J. B. Tackett
Harry Van Arsdale
Robert continued, “I have bits and pieces of names of others I am trying to sort out. It is complicated because over time the survivors tend to conflate memories and mix up names.
“Finally, the records reflect that there was one soldier from South Africa in the camp. My uncle wrote a letter home from the camp wherein he identified a South African named Hans Praetorius who had given him a German dictionary. My uncle was passing the time by teaching himself German and Italian.”
I am so very grateful to Robert for his sharing of these 31 additional names for the Survivors of Camp 59 Prisoner List.