Coenraad Stoltz—Escapee from Camp 52


Coenraad Willem Frederik Stoltz

As mentioned in the previous post, I heard from Conradt Stoltz, Coenraad’s grandson, earlier this month. (Read “Coenraad Stoltz—the ‘War-Box.’”)

Concerning the photo above, Conradt wrote, “This is photo the oldest photo I have of grandfather. It was taken around 1963 when he was in his late 40’s.”

Here is a short history of Coenraad Stoltz’s military service that Conradt sent me:

Pte. Coenraad Willem Frederik Stoltz
Private, 1st Regiment Botha, South African Army
Force Number 40011

27 February 1941: On strength – 1st Regiment Botha, Alfa Company (Basic Training)

9 October 1941: Embark HMS Mauritania in convoy with HMAS Australia

21 October 1941: Disembark Suez, Egypt, North Africa

26 October 1941: On strength – Mersa Matruth, Egypt / 2nd Regiment Botha, Charlie Company

19 November 1941: First Action. Small forces of Italian Scouts are engaged in Eastern Libya. Later the Regiment comes under fire from Italian fighter planes

20 November 1941: Second Action. Meet the Germans! Forward elements of 7th Panzer Division launch testing attacks over a wide front causing some disorder before retreating

21 November 1941: 3rd Action. At Point 175, overlooking Sidi Rezegh. 2nd Regiment Botha is under intense attack from German armored divisions and accurate artillery fire

23 November 1941: “Missing in Action” The 5th Brigade take the brunt of an all out assault by the 7th and 21st Panzer Divisions. The 5th Brigade force of 5,800 men suffer 3,600 casualties with 1,300 captured

27 November 1941: Tobruk. Part of the infamous ‘Thirst March’

5 December 1941: Bengazi, Libya. ‘The Palms’ POW camp

11 December 1941: Pilos, Greece. Shipwrecked / POW

19 January 1942: Confirmed POW by Red Cross. POW number 274171

14 April 1942: Confirmed inmate of POW Camp 52, near Chiavari, Genoa, Italy

8 September 1943: Italy capitulates. Escape into Italian rural area

9 April 1944: Brussels, Belgium. On strength R.B G/L (C POW Pers)

28 April 1945: Horsham, West Sussex, UK Assembly camp for South African POW’s from Europe

25 May 1945: Arrive on RMS Straitbaird – On strength Cape Fortress Garrison

22 October 1945: Honourable Discharge, Dispersal Depot, Show Grounds Camp, Pretoria, South Africa

“I have recently discovered that my grandfather also turned in Greece, a place called Pilos,” Conradt wrote. “It would seem he was held here for a short period after a ship they were on ran aground in the area.

“I am unsure if this is connected to the POW ship Jason that was torpedoed by the British submarine Porpoise at that time.‎

“In addition, another unconfirmed story placed in the same battle a certain Hans Jansen—who had lost a leg at Sidi Rezech and returned to South Africa in 1946—and Hendrik Stoltz—who some family members claim is a cousin of grandfather, but who went MIA and was never seen or heard from again.”

I had asked Conradt if he could help to decipher this sentence in his grandfather’s timeline:

“On strength R.B G/L (C POW Pers).”

He answered, “Regarding the R.B G/L (C POW Pers) abbreviation. R.B. definitely r‎efers to ‘Regiment Botha’. The G/L is unclear, it being used to describe ‘Group Leader’ or ‘General Ledger’, which doesn’t make sense in the context—yet it was suggested that it could be an Afrikaans abbreviation for ‘geelkoors/luis’, meaning treated or inoculation for yellow fever and lice. As discussed before, the general agreement is that ‘C POW Pers’ refer to Charlie Company and ex-pow personnel.”

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