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Sojourn in Silesia: 1940-1945 [Paperback]

Arthur Charles Evans CBE , Catherine Aldous , Pat McNeill
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 Mar 2005 --  

Book Description

1 Mar 2005
Arthur Charles Evans was born in 1916 in the Wirral, Cheshire. The first years of his employment were at Lever Bros, soapworks at Port Sunlight, and then with the New Zealand Shipping Company. One voyage to Australia and then another to New Zealand convinced him he was not meant to be a sailor. To further his ambition to become a policeman, he enlisted in the Irish Guards in 1936. In May 1940, he was wounded and taken prisoner in Boulogne and spent the remainder of the war in prison camps in Upper Silesia. He returned to England in May 1945 and upon demobilisation, joined the Kent County Constabulary. Whilst still a Police Constable, and from 1956-1967 he was the General Secretary of the Police Federation for England and Wales, and it was in this capacity that he was appointed C.B.E. He was married to his wife Freda for 62 years, and they have 3 daughters. He retired aged 65, and spent much of his time gardening, bowling and cooking in his Kent home, and in later years caring for Freda. In March 2010, both Arthur and Freda moved into a local nursing home and where sadly Arthur passed away 3 days short of his 95th birthday. Freda remains in the good care of the nursing home. Profit from the sale of this book will be donated to The British Red Cross at the expressed wish of Arthur in the days before he died. He never forgot their role in his survival during his imprisonment.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: Braiswick; 3 Rev Ed edition (1 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1898030820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1898030829
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,519,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Just over ten years ago I composed the account of my time behind barbed-wire solely for the information of my family, and all purely from memory; no diaries, no written records. However, at that time Freda, my wife, was an enthusiastic member of a writer's group. She and her colleagues insisted that my writings justified wider publicity in book form.

The interest in this book has already engendered is most gratifying and now, because of the website (designed by my eldest daughter, Gillian) the demand for copies is even greater.

I have received, and attempted to answer, many letters - a few from fellow P.O.W.s, but chiefly from their children or, latterly, grandchildren. Sadly, in one case I was able to identify to a nephew his uncle shown in the 1941 group photograph of the coal mine working party, who, regretfully, was shot dead in 1944 by a German guard for not resuming work quickly enough after a break.

A grandson of the late R.S.M. Sidney Sherriff has also been in touch. R.S.M. Sherriff as the S.B.O. was much respected and well known to all who were incarcerated in Lamsdorf and richly deserved the honour he received after his return to the UK. A third example concerns a colleague who was directly responsible for smuggling Wing Commander Bader out of Lamsdorf wearing army uniform to a working party on Gleiwitz Aerodrome in 1942.

Remarkably, an Australian correspondent has tried to persuade me that Bader was not in Lamsdorf in 1942 but in a hotel in Liverpool where the writer waited on him. According to him, the German authorities had allowed Bader temporarily to return to the UK for special treatment to his leg stumps, on the understanding he duly returned to Lamsdorf! I am still not convinced!

In the end, there was so much correspondence that we started storing it in cardboard boxes - and so when writers asked if we'd heard from their old comrades at arms that their relatives had mentioned, it became increasingly difficult and time-consuming to go through all the letters to find out if we had any trace of them.

However, little did I realise then that we were about to enter a technological revolution - and neither did I think at my great age I would be expected to get to grips with it. Fortunately, with the advent of the internet, my daughter Gillian has now been able to create a website called Lamsdorf Reunited ( on which we keep everyone's contact details on a separate database and the incredible reach of the worldwide web means we can easily bring together people from all over the world.

So, where before I was receiving letters I now mainly receive emails from places as diverse as South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Where I could not help personally, I advised the correspondents to contact the Ministry of Defence and the Committee of the International Red Cross in Geneva. This applied particularly to relatives seeing information about the sites of graves of those of our comrades who lost their lives, either by gross neglect by the German authorities or unfortunately by 'friendly fire' during the death march in the snowbound months of early 1945.

One factor has surprised me! Not one of my ex-colleagues on the working parties in the coal mine or at Gleiwitz Aerodrome has contacted me. There must be a few still about!

The website ( has dramatically revived interest in my book, necessitating a Third Edition. I am shortly about to arrive at the eighty-ninth anniversary of my birth and am still fortunate enough to drive my car and disport myself on the bowls greens of Kent.

Please continue to send your letters and emails!

Arthur Evans 2005

Arthur, as you may be aware, passed away on 18 March 2011. His granddaughter Jo Harrison, for several years, has been responsible for the website and the sales of his book. Just before he died, Arthur requested that some of the profit from the sales of the book would go to The British Red Cross. At the time of this request I hadn't realised quite what The Red Cross meant to him. We have recently been reading his letters home, during his 5 years incarceration. Reading about the Red Cross parcels and seeing how important they were to the survival of Arthur and his peers is astonishing. So, we are pleased to be honouring his request and donating monies to this worthy charity.

It is important to note here, we no longer keep contact details. Now that Lamsdorf Reunited has become Lamsdorf Remembered, we no longer take submissions of photos, stories or memorabilia from relatives of former prisoners of war at Stalag VIIIB. But you are welcome to view them on the old Lamsdorf Reunited pages. Alternatively you can submit photos and stories on the Facebook page:

So, as we enter a fourth reprint we hope you continue to enjoy this firsthand account of life behind the wires as a prisoner of war.

Kathy Gower, May 2011

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sojourn in Silesia: 1940 - 1945 12 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this in one go - once I had started I couldn't put it down. I cried more than once but also, despite the subject matter, laughed out loud in several places. Arthurs writing is lovely and the description of the conditions, the scenery and the unlikely "friendships" that were made during his time in captivity are amazing. I believe this is a book for everyone and, as there are sadly so few of our heroes left, will soon be the way to come anywhere near understanding how tough things were and how clueless and lucky we are today. I have thought about Arthur and his comrades in someway everyday since I read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentelman Hero 16 April 2012
By Steve B
Format:Kindle Edition
It is difficult to imagine the terror of being held captive during WW2, we all now know how it all ended, but at the time prisoners of war didn't. Waking up every morning thinking that it could be you last, must take a massive toll on your health and well-being. To have to sustain this for 5 years is imaginable to me, but Arthur did and still managed to keep his perspective on life.

What I soon grasped when reading his own account of WW2, was that Arthur was a gentleman first and a soldier second. His respect for his fellow inmates and even of some of his enemies shone through. He did what he had to do to survive which must have been soul destroying at times, especially having to work down a dark and dangerous mine.

Other people did play a part in keeping Arthur's spirit up, mainly the odd letters from home and the amazing work of the Red-Cross, along with people from his home town who aided this support.

His family are entitled to feel honoured to have been part of the life of this Gentleman Hero.

Read this book and count your blessings, I know I did.

Sojourn in Silesia: 1940 - 1945
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sojourn in Silesia 18 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My father was in the N.African desert during WW2 and never said much about it. Everyone should read books like this to know what really happened. I never knew men were so reliant on Red Cross parcels. An evocative book which I read in a day.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By teacher
Format:Kindle Edition
Sojourn in Silesia, by Arthur Charles Evans, CBE, is a first-rate first-hand account of one Prisoner-of-War's experiences during the length of World War Two. From how he came to be taken prisoner, to the life and death remembrances of captivity, to enduring the rise and then fall of the German Army, Arthur faithfully recounts all he can remember of significance from the years 1940 through 1945. Engrossing reading, with references to people, places and activities everyone familiar with this dark period will recall. Highly recommended to anyone wishing to more fully understand personal response to institutional horror.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable! 6 April 2012
By pjred
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this book after it was recommended to me. Most enjoyable with tears in my eyes, probably on more than one occasion. It is amazing what the human body can take when subjected to the harshness of war?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable account of hardship overcome 22 Nov 2004
By A Customer
A very readable story of one man's account of being a prisoner of war. The pressures, anxieties and comradeship. It certainly gives food for thought about how anybody could not only survive the ordeal, but learn from it. Not the "Great Escape", but somehow all the more poignant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was honoured to be asked to review this book by my RISI and Facebook friend Jo Harrison, Arthur Evans granddaughter, who is the editor of this story. Shameless plug here for Jo's website. Yes, I use the word story because it is Arthur's story and it is special not only to those close to him, family and friends, but because it is a humbling reminder of what our forebears went through during the World Wars of the 20th century.

I found Arthur's story very interesting partly because I had not read any accounts of POW's. This story is not full of terror, it is told in such a way that it keeps the reader interested. It does not dwell on horrors but gives a rounded view. The German officers were described as ordinary humans just carrying out their jobs and you could sense that many of them did not actually like keeping these men prisoners, they were not the Gestapo. Many of the POW's friends and comrades were killed and stories reached the inmates of Stalag VIIIB that some of those who had already left the camp had subsequently died. The POW's weren't treated too badly, compared to many of the atrocities we read about in the German prison camps and Arthur Evans was fortunate to build up a relationship with the German officers which helped his fellow inmates. A special man, he taught himself to speak German to not only help himself and the other prisoners, but it also made it easier for the Germans. His story shows that the Germans respected him. Of course, the POW's would not have had parcels of food and clothing if it were not for the work of the Red Cross and later on we hear that Mr Evans own family and friends in his home town contributed financially to ensure that he received clothing and food.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Sojourn in Silesia
A thoroughly enjoyable read. It taught me a lot that I didn't know about an unassuming person I 'worked under' some 25 years ago, yet clearly knew little about!
Published 9 months ago by David Line
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting account of one mans experience as a POW.
If like me you had a relative in Stalag VIII b and you are looking for answers to questions that never got answered then this is not for you. At 117 pages it is quite a small book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr John Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly interesting!
I got this title via an Army (British) online forum after reading some info on the content.

Not my normal read (though I am an avid military history buff), I found this... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mr. Roger Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down
When I downloaded this book I wasn't sure that I would like it as its not my usual type of book. Started reading it on the train going to work and after the first few pages was... Read more
Published on 25 May 2012 by Joanne
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Compelling
I am not an avid reader and can't remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover. I reluctantly began this one, fearing that it would end up the same way as all the rest... Read more
Published on 20 May 2012 by MRS LOUISE GRUDGINGS
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply felt and beautifully written book about life as a POW
A wonderful book very different from any previous book I have read by a former POW. The author kept his humanity and interest in people, both his fellow POW and the Germans he... Read more
Published on 16 May 2012 by Voyager
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