When carrying out one of my researches in the local papers, I came across this article in the Southend Times & Recorder – Laindon Addition (15 November 1944). The tea rooms referred to were in the High Road (today Laindon High Road North).
Laindon Prisoner of War Escaped in Italy
‘After spending 15 months in a German concentration camp in Italy, William Patrick Gamon, a Laindon soldier serving with the Essex Regiment, escaped with five other prisoners and took shelter in the Italian woods.
Private Gamon first joined the army in December, 1940. After completing his five months’ training he went to the Gold Coast for seven months and later to the African desert where, after fighting with the Eighth Army, he was taken to Italy in July, 1942, and spent fifteen months in a concentration camp.
When Italy capitulated in September, 1943, Private Gamon, who was a prisoner near Florence, made his escape with five other prisoners. They made their way to the woods and slept in caves. After a few months, one of their comrades died through exposure and they buried him in the woods nearby.
They got most of their food from Italian people who risked their lives giving it to them.
Toskin, just below the Gothic Line. When the British advanced and by-passed them, they reported to the British Command and were sent to a rest camp and later to England.
Private Gamon arrived at his home, the Fortune Tea Rooms, Fortune of War, Laindon on October 25.
In pre-war he had been a member of the old British Legion Sports Club at the Phoenix Hall, which was burnt down in 1929. He had also been a member of the Victoria Sports Club for many years and a member of Langdon Hills Football and Cricket Club.
The Laindon Athletic Club (L.A.C.) had “adopted” him while he was a prisoner in Italy and had supplied him regularly every two months with 200 cigarettes.
At a recent social of the L.A.C. Private Gamon was welcomed home when he expressed his thanks to the members for their kind gifts. He also thanked the Laindon Prisoners of War Guild and the Laindon Cigarette Fund for their generous gifts of cigarettes.
As a tribute to Pte. Gamon a collection was taken during the evening which amounted to £3 2s 6d. When it was handed to him, he asked for the amount to be given to the Red Cross Prisoners of War Fund’.
Questions: Does anybody remember the family and I wonder what the name of the POW Camp was?