SANDY (GEORGE ALEXANDER) SAUNDERS
Contributed by Mrs Yvonne Winson
Sandy was 5'6", of a very slight build, weighed barely 8 stone when he enlisted. He had blond hair and a very outgoing nature.
Enlisted at Woolwich Regular Army RA on 17th March 1939 and volunteered for India service (Horse Regiment. The Regiment later shipped from India to Egypt and he was in North Africa, including Tobruk, until his capture on 6th June 1942.
Sandy was driver to Major RJB 'Bob' Daniell. At some point their outfit was amalgamated with the 107th RHA South Notts Hussars, a Territorial regiment from Nottingham.
Sandy was captured by the Germans at Knightsbridge in the 'cauldron' at Bir Harmet. He was handed over th the Italians and was in two Italian POW camps until Italy capitulated. Germans then took the POWs into Axis territory in cattle trucks via Innsbruch, first to Stalag IVB transit camp?) then 'volunteered' to go as an engineer to a new camp. Sandy said that he was a qualified engineer; in fact before he enlisted he was a cinema projectionist in London.
Along with other POWs he was transported to the IG Farben factory on the Buna-Werke site on the Auschwitz complex in Poland. He is listed as being at Stalag VIIIB E715. (Note: not many Red Cross parcels found their way that far east). According to the International Red Cross Sandy arrived in Germany in August 1943.
After the Allies had bombed the camp in December 1944 some of the POWs including Sandy were marched out of Auschwitz and force-marched across eastern Europe in the winter of 1944-5. Sandy lost many of his POW mates on the way. He was found somewhere in Europe around the middle of May 1945 and was repatriated by air (Americans), taken to the TAF Hospital at Swindon suffering with, among other things, malnutrition, pleurisy, pneumonia and frostbite. He was not expected to live and weighed less than five stone.
He did survive, married his pre-war teenage girlfriend and lived a full life.
In his last few years we talked a lot of his war-time experiences. I have many anecdotes and some documents, and if anyone did know Sandy I will willingly give any information that I have.
It was a privilege to have shared many an hour with Sandy. Sadly he passed away on April 12th 2000 after a short illness.