Category Archives: Leslie Worthington

Tom Alman—Back Home in Western Australia

Ray Worthington (son of P.G. 59 escapee Les Worthington) and Linda Veness (daughter of escapee Jim McMahon) discovered and shared this 1944 news article with me this week.

Kalgoorlie Soldier Escaped Twice

Sunday Times (Perth, Western Australia)
Sunday, 24 September 1944

Welcomed home to Kalgoorlie during the week was A.I.F. Pte. Tom Alman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Les Alman, of Egan-street. Tom Alman has put up an unique record for he escaped from Italian P.O.W. camps on two occasions.

Prior to joining up in 1941, Tom had his own carrying business here. He served right though the Middle East and was unlucky to be captured by the Germans at El Alamein, in July, 1942, and taken to Benghazi, Lybia [sic] where he remained five months.

Then taken to Italy, he remained in a p.o.w. camp until December 14, 1943, when in company with four other prisoners of war, all Western Australians—Jack Allen, formerly employed at Masseys, Kalgoorlie; Jim McMahon, from Reedys; L/C L. [Leslie] Worthington, of Wiluna; and J. [Jimmy] Feehan, of Geraldton—he escaped and hid in the Italian mountains. Tom and Jim McMahon joined up with a band of rebels, and stayed with them three months.

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Jimmy Feehan and Thomas Penman

australians-r72

Escaped P.O.W.s arrive at Royal Park, Victoria, Australia, 1944. From left: Private J. W. Feehan from W.A. (Western Australia), Sergeant E. J. Brough from Victoria, Lance Corporal L. Worthington from W.A., Mrs. T. G. McClounan from the Red Cross, Private H. A. Lockie from Queensland, and Private J. A. Allen from W.A. (Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria)

Helen McGregor directed me to the above photo, which she found among the digitalized images of the State Library of Victoria. She had been searching for information on Jimmy Feehan, a friend whom her father, Scottish soldier Thomas Penman, spent time with after the men escaped from Camp 59.

I was pleased to see other P.G. 59 escapees in this photo: Leslie Worthington (see “Les Worthington—an Australian’s Adventure” and “A Timeline of Les Worthington’s Service“, and John Albert Allen (see “Conversations with Vaughan Laurence Carter and “Simmons’ Address Book—the Lone Australian.”

Les Worthington’s son, Ray Worthington, wrote to tell me he has been able to narrow the date of the photo: “I can tie the date of it down fairly closely from my record of Dad’s service which shows:

10/9/1944 – Disembarked at Melbourne (report of 25/9/1944)
14/9/1944 – Entrained at Victoria. Vic L of C Area (report of 25/9/1944).

“So it was between the 10th and 14th of September 1944.

“And Dad then arrived back in Perth on the 17th of September, so the first time 7 years old me had seen him in nearly 4 years!”

American readers should note the day precedes the month in the above dates. For example, 10/9/1944 is September 10, 1944.

Thomas Penman’s Service Record

The following dates and locations for Thomas Penman are from a British military record for Thomas that Helen McGregor shared with me.

This information is in the left column of the form:

Deemed to have been enlisted March 19, 1940.

DSR. – September 8, 1940

Posted I.T.C. [Infantry Training Centre] Royal Scots – Private – March 19, 1940

Posted June 28, 1942 – Pte [Private]

Missing – Pte – June 28, 1942

Prisoner of War (Italian)
Escaped (Now in Allied Hands, S/Italy)

In another area, “Service at Home and Abroad” indicates:

Home – March 19, 1940 to June 25, 1940
Egypt – June 26, 1940 to December 15, 1940
Sudan – December 16, 1940 to July 9, 1941
Egypt – July 10, 1941 to June 27, 1942
ITALY (P.W.) [prisoner of war] – June 28, 1942 to August 10, 1944
NS. Y/167/44 HOME – August 11, 1944 to September 26, 1946

I assume the span of June 28, 1942 to August 10, 1944 is inclusive of Thomas’ time “on the run” after escape from Camp 59—and his involvement with the Yugoslavian partisans that Helen mentions in “Scottish Escapee Thomas Penman.”

The last entry apparently covers the period from his return to the UK in August 1944 through his lengthy recovery at Camp 197 (“The Mount”) in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Conversations with Vaughan Laurence Carter

In 2006, Ray Worthington had two conversations with Vaughan Laurence Carter, a former Australian POW at Camp 59.

The two conversations were on June 23rd and June 30th. I am grateful to Ray for sharing his notes from those conversations with me for this site.

Vaughan had responded to a request for information on Ray’s father, Leslie Worthington WX4449, posted by Ray in Tobruk to Borneo, a quarterly journal of the Australian 2nd/28th Battalion and 24th Anti-Tank Company Association.

At the time of these conversations, Vaughan was 85 years old and was being treated for pancreatic cancer, but was still very alert and demonstrated an excellent memory. He served as WX11634 in the 2nd/28th Battalion and was one of the 490 taken prisoner at Ruin Ridge on 27 July 1942. [Miteirya Ridge, near El Alamein, Egypt, was known to the Australians as “Ruin Ridge.”]

Although he had not met Les earlier (Vaughan was in D Company; while Les was 8 Section, 12 Platoon, B Company), he remembers Les because they were in the same POW camp. Vaughan’s memory of Les is as a “good bloke.” He also remembers Les as fairly old—Les turned 39 in 1942, while Vaughan only turned 22 while they were in the camp at Servigliano.

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A Timeline of Les Worthington’s Service

The following dates are from Les Worthington’s service record (WX4449) at the National Archives of Australia.

1940

June 1—medically examined and accepted in Wiluna

July 6—ceased work at The Wiluna Gold Mines Limited

July 13—enlisted at Northam Army Camp as WX4449

September 5—transferred to the 2nd/28th Battalion, 24th Brigade, 9th Division, A.I.F.; became a member of 8 Section, 12 Platoon, B Company

1941

January 5—the 2nd/28th departed for the Middle East on the Aquitania

November 12—appointed lance corporal

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Les Worthington—an Australian’s Adventure

Australian Lance Corporal Leslie Worthington’s service record from the National Archives of Australia is presented in this post, along with a few comments and photos provided by his son, Ray Worthington.

This portrait of Les Worthington was taken sometime in the latter part of 1940. His army battalion departed from Australia on 3 January 1941.

Written on back: “Taken at Kilo 89. Winner of donkey race.” Les’s battalion—the 2nd/28th—moved from Tobruk to Alexandria on 23 September 1941, and then to the camp at Kilo 89, so this photo was probably taken around then. If you look closely you can see the ears of the donkey Les is seated on.

Service Record

National Archives transcription from the service record of Leslie Worthington WX4449, pages 13 and 14

Minor edits have been made for readability. Where a name appears to be incorrect or there is a variation, a likely alternative is shown in brackets.

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN SEARCHER’S REPORT ON AN ESCAPED P.O.W.

WITNESS STATES:

“I was taken prisoner of war at El Alamein the night of 27 July 1942.

“After being captured, I was taken to the German HQ [headquarters] and questioned, and after that to the Italian HQ at a place called Appaloni [Apollonia or Susah, Libya] for the same purpose. I was then taken to Derna [Darnah, Libya], Tocra [Tukrah, Libya], and finally to the main prison camp at Benghazi [Banghazi, Libya]. This camp was not the best when we arrived here as it was really a staging camp and overcrowded. We slept in the open most of the time, and there was very little water and food was scarce.

[This would have been The Palms Prison Camp also known as Palm Tree Camp, or The Palm Grove.]

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