On Oct. 2, 1942, a Halifax bomber from #10 Squadron RAF left Melbourne, Yorkshire, England on a path finding mission to the Ruhr in Germany did not return from its mission. One of the crew members was Penticton born Jack Stocks.
Oct. 6, 1942, 8 a.m. CN TELEGRAM to LUMB STOCKS of Penticton
REGRET TO INFORM YOU ADVICE HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE CASUALTIES OFFICE THAT YOUR SON RO 107583 SERGEANT JOHN PHILIP STOCKS IS REPORTED MISSING…
Oct. 8, 1942, letter from STALAG VIII B : “My dearest Mum & Dad, The first thing I must tell you is that I am safe and well. We had to “bale out” by parachute somewhere over Germany but luckily I landed without a scratch.
(POWs were allowed two censored form letters and four form post cards per month. Letters took three months or more to arrive. There was no restriction on the amount of mail POWs could receive. Not wanting to worry family at home, Jack’s letter were always cheerful. Jack’s diary, which was hidden while in camp, records a darker side of December)
Dec. 2: “Shaved in warm water after unchaining.”
Dec. 4: “Chained with bloody great handcuffs on our wrists with a chain in between. They’re pretty heavy.”
Dec. 5: “Chained again today. Unchained from 11AM.”
Dec. 6: “After being chained, took a short walk, then went to Church.”
Dec. 9: “After chaining, took a brisk walk. About 9:30 we had a parade and they checked the chains.”
Dec. 10: “We were confined to the parade ground until everyone was chained.”
Dec. 13: My Dearest Mum & Dad: Still no word from you but I don’t expect I’ll have to wait much longer for a letter What a treat it will be to see your writing again! Dec. 16: “Still Chained.” Dec. 18: “Unchained at 11AM, sore the rest of day.”
Dec. 20: “What a thrill it was to get my first mail- a letter from Auntie Kath, dated Nov. 11th which I received Dec. 15th. I was very relieved to know you knew I was OK and also my address. Auntie Kath has certainly been wonderful.”
(In December 1942, Jack Stocks went through at least one de-lousing session. Stocks spent February and March in hospital with ulcers on his ankles, although bothered with boils, his health remained good.)
Feb. 20, 1943: “If I remember correctly, it is exactly a year today since I last saw you.”
Oct. 3, 1943: “Dearest Mum and Dad, Exactly one year ago last night we were shot down. The funny part is that yesterday I received a letter from you dated 23 Oct, 1942-the first one you ever wrote!”
June 4, 1944: “Dearest Mum and Dad, ! I was very tickled to receive 13 letters this week. There are as follows: yours of Dec.16, Jan.19, Feb 2 & 9 also letters from David, Pete Zita, Kath.”
Jan. 7, 1945: Last letter written by Jack Stocks from Stalag VIIIB.
(As the Soviet Army advanced into Germany, in mid January Allied POWs were marched westward in groups of 200-300 on a difficult 500-mile march from the German Polish border to Bremen. With temperatures from -15 C to – 20 C this trek is known as “the death march.”)
April 19, 1945: “Dearest Mum & Dad, You probably will (be) very surprised to receive this letter from Brussels. This is your old son Jack writing, tired but happy on his way home…I should be back to normal in no time. Give my love to everyone and I’ll see you all very shortly. Always your loving son, Jack.” April 20, 1945, Telegram: PLEASED TO ADVISE YOU THAT WARRANT OFFICER J.P.STOCKS HAS ARRIVED IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 20/ APRIL/ 45 STOP
(On arriving home to Penticton in the summer of 1945, Jack returned to work with his father, Lumb Stocks, in the photography business.
On Lumb’s retirement in 1947, Jack took over as manager. This business continued as Stocks Camera Shop Ltd., located in the 200 block on Main Street, Penticton.)
This excerpt is from
Remembers Vol. II. Penticton by David Snyder
Thanks to Penticton Herald