LITHERLAND AT WAR
1939-1945

3761338 Cpl Albert Victor Bower
78th Coy, 5 Group A.M.P.C.
[Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps]
British Expeditionary Force

 

CROSBY HERALD 1940
No news has been received of ALBERT VICTOR BOWER (in the A.M.P.C., and who was also with the B.E.F.) for four months.

   The A.M.P.C. was formed as a war emergency measure in October 1939 with the need for 'Labour/Pioneer Companies' as operated with the army in World War I. The title Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps was changed to Pioneer Corps in 1940. The A.M.P.C. companies that were formed were led by veteran officers and NCOs. The A.M.P.C. force of the B.E.F. that crossed to France in 1939/40 numbered 30,000 men consisting of 107 companies, forming 17 groups. In the latter stages of the fighting withdrawal of the B.E.F. from France; the A.M.P.C. took up arms and were involved in fierce fighting alongside the infantry against German forces. One such force of Pioneers from 5 Group A.M.P.C. grouped together in a combat role was 'Digforce', which became part 'Beauman Division' formed May 31st.

Albert Bower of 57 Daley Road, Litherland was most probably captured in the Boulogne area in May 1940 or with the Beauman Division in June of the same year. He was transported to the German POW camp Stalag XXA in Torun (Thorn) in Poland. Stalag XXA was a complex of camps and former Polish forts converted into to prisons by the Germans. The headquarters camp was Fort 17 and known as "Komendantury Stalag 20A".  Over the period of the war 60,000 POWs passed through Stalag 20A for processing. The camps were liberated by the Americans in 1945.

Albert Bower's POW address: 10564 Cpl A. V. Bower, STALAG XXA, 3a 16, DEUTSCHLAND
Boulogne
(19-25 May 1940)
   On the 18/19th May, plans were made for an evacuation from Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk to England. Streams of refugees, French, Belgian and British troops began to enter the Boulogne area including the Pioneers of 5 Group A.M.P.C. Under the command of Lt Col Dean a company of Pioneers were sent 17 miles south of Boulogne with the task of holding the River Canche. It was this force that gave definate news of the German approach on Boulogne. Most of the Pioneers were evacuated with 300 being left behind with Welsh Guardsmen, Sappers and French soldiers who were taken under command of Major Windsor Lewis. The force held out until May 25th after intense panzer fire pounded them from all sides; and with hardly any food or ammunition left, they were forced to surrender.

Extract from: DESTINATION DUNKIRK by Gregory Blaxland
British Troops in the Boulogne Area
 
NOTE:
The photograph shows Albert Bower in the King's Liverpool Regiment and what appears to be the WWI trio of medal ribbons on his tunic, which would put him in his late 40s in 1940. The Crosby Herald piece has his surname as 'Bowen', but - I have three references to his surname being 'Bower'. I have a list of a Roll of Service collected by St Philip's Church, of men from the parish who joined up - his surname is listed as 'Bower'. Also the 1938 and 1946 Kelly's Liverpool Directory for Daley Road give his surname as 'Bower'. There is one 'Albert Bower' aged 11 listed for Liverpool in the 1901 census; if this is the same person, his age in 1940 would have been 50.


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