Group of Five: GSM (GV1) One Clasp; "PALESTINE” correctly impressed to 3908856 PTE W. GETHIN S. WALES BORD. 1939/1945 Star, Africa Star, Defence and War Medal unnamed as issued.
Note: The 1st battalion, South Wales Borderers were posted to Iraq in November 1941 in anticipation of a German attack. When it became apparent that no such attack was coming, they moved overland the following May to a position just outside Tobruk, which they were ordered to hold in cover of the general British withdrawal of forces from the area. This order, however, was almost immediately countermanded and a chaotic retreat ensued, exacerbated by lack of transport and the capture of the battalion’s reconnaissance officers by the Germans. Under heavy attack, and in unfamiliar and hostile terrain, over 500 men were lost, most taken prisoner.
Originally classed as missing in action and re-classified as Prisoner of War (Germany). Lance Corporal Gethin was prisoner number 6384 at Stalag 317, Sankt Johann im Pongau, Austria.
Stalag 317 initially consisted of prisoners from France and the Soviet Union who were used as forced labour in nearby factories and in agriculture. In November 1943, after the Italian armistice, Commonwealth prisoners arrived from Italy with two hundred NCOs being transferred. Records state approximately 4,000 people died in the camp and indicates that most were Soviet Prisoners.
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