I received this intriguing photo today from Dean Cahill who said be believes it to have been taken in Switzerland, “during the time between the escape and the repatriation. My grandfather, Pat, is seated second from right in the picture. Maybe someone will be able to shed light on his fellow swimmers.”
Click on the image above to see a full-sized scan of the photograph.
Inscribed in the lower right corner are the words “Photo Brandt AROSA.”
Arosa is a municipality in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. As a resort, Arosa is popular in both winter and summer.
The photographer is evidently British photographer Bill Brandt. Vintage photographs that he took of horse races in Arosa during 1946—“Race Journalist” and “Snowy Spectators” are available though Getty images.
Pat Cahill and two other British soldiers who escaped from Camp 59 made their way to Switzerland, where they lived for six months until their repatriation.
Read more about Patrick Cahill in the May 16, 2010 post “Patrick Cahill—Capture and Liberation.”
Patrick Cahill with fellow servicemen. Patrick is the fellow leaning against the chair just left of center.
Notification of Pat’s capture and imprisonment at Camp 59, sent to his parents in August 1942.
Dean Cahill of Leicestershire, England, has provided some information for this site about his grandfather, Pvt. Patrick Cahill of the 12th Lancers. Pat was captured at Tobruk in North Africa. Information about Patrick’s war experience is sketchy because, as Dean put it, “He was the type that wanted to forget!”
Dean’s father, Ralph Cahill, said that the civilians in this picture somehow helped Pat with his escape. Pat Cahill is seated at far right, holding the dog.
According to Dean:
“Pat had escaped before and been re-captured. I’m not sure if this was from Camp 59. After the mass escape though the hole in the wall, Pat made his way, along with two other Brits to Switzerland, living for six months with a kind mountain farming family. He then passed though France and managed to reach Britain undetected.
G. Norman Davison recounts an early tunneling breakout from Hut 4 of Camp 59 in his published memoirs, In the Prison of His Days. All of the men were recaptured. Perhaps Pat took part in that breakout.