The superb Fall of Norway Prisoner of War and Escape to Russia Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to Corporal W. Corkery, 8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters - The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, who was taken prisoner to the north of Lilliehammer
The superb Fall of Norway Prisoner of War and Escape to Russia Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to Corporal W. Corkery, 8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters - The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, who was taken prisoner to the north of Lilliehammer on 27th April 1940, and made his escape from Stalag XXA at Winuga on the Vistula on 3rd December 1940, before suffering rough treatment at the hands of the Russians through to June 1941.
Distinguished Conduct Medal, Geo VI, first type named to 3511456 Corporal W. Corkery, Foresters.
William Corkery served during the Second World War as a Corporal (No.3511456) with the 8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters - The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, and as such fought during the defence of Norway in 1940, and was taken prisoner in the hills to the north of Lilliehammer on 27th April 1940. Taken to Oslo, and thence to Stettin, he was next entrained for a camp at Bromberg in German occupied Poland but, on arrival, refused to join a working party engaged in the preparation of gun ranges. He was removed the following day - 7 July 1940 - to Stalag XXA, Fort 13, at Winuga on the Vistula, where he teamed up with Private H. Doyle of the 5th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders. Of their subsequent escape, M.I. 9 records state: ‘On arrival all our personal belongings were confiscated, we were not interrogated but were registered. No clothing was issued to Prisoners of War. We were housed in wooden huts and the food was poor and scarce. Discipline was very strict; our quarters were searched once or twice a week. During our stay in the camp we did not see a Red Cross parcel. All our letters were censored. In spite of everything and of the German effort to convince us that the war was lost for Britain, Prisoners of War never despaired. We were obliged to work and went out daily in parties of ten or twenty under escort of two guards armed with rifles. Roll call was taken before leaving and on return to the Camp. Prisoners of War of Irish extraction were taken away soon after our arrival. There was no recognised escape organisation amongst Prisoners of War, but individuals were constantly scheming and collecting equipment. We stole a map from the guards' canteen and had already acquired a pocket compass. It was impossible to get hold of civilian clothes, this handicap and the lack of money stopped many a man from trying to get away. The Germans had also put up a notice saying that it was useless to escape to Russia, as the Red frontier guards shot at sight. In spite of all this we decided to make a dash for it. The guards' canteen had a door on the far side opening out of the camp, with a single wire fence beyond to negotiate. At 0430 hours on 3rd December we went through the canteen and, when the sentry had just passed, scrambled under and through the fence and so got away. We took the river Vistula as our direction for Russian Occupied Poland and, for the first ten days, avoided meeting anybody. By then our store of food gave out, but on approaching Polish farmers, we were given food and clothing and by degrees guided to Warsaw. Here we got in touch with an organisation which helped us to the frontier at Ostroleica. Here we got through the wire and penetrated five miles beyond before we were arrested by Russians and taken to Lomsa prison for three days, then nine days at Bialostok and thirteen at Minok. At all these places the prisons were filthy and over-crowded, and we were half starved. The other inmates were chiefly Poles of whom the majority were ex-officers. Later we were moved to a prison in Moscow, where were better; this was an internment camp for political prisoners. After a fortnight we were taken, with 140 Frenchmen, to a camp at Smolensk, where we remained from the beginning of February 1941 until the 22 June, when the German attack began. We were then taken to the railway station and were all ready for our journey (rumoured to be Siberia), in cattle trucks under heavy guard, when all British P./W. were suddenly ordered to leave the train. We were taken back to the camp and later to a hotel in Moscow, where we spent eight days on good rations before our release on 8 July to our own Embassy.’ For his gallantry in making his escape and crossing over to the Russian lines, followed by the subsequent hardship he endured whilst a prisoner of the Russians, Corkery together with his fellow escaper Private Doyle of the Gordon’s, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the London Gazette for 4th November 1941. Good very fine