Hudspeth Joseph Armstrong Pte. 4454650

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Personnel Entry

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Name Hudspeth Joseph Armstrong
Army number 4454650
Rank Pte.
Date of birth
Unit Joined The Durham Light Infantry, no enlistment date as yet, but probably Spring 1939. Posted to ? 8th Battalion. Posted to the 11th Battalion DLI, probably on 1/9/1939. Served with the B.E.F. in Northern France. Taken Prisoner of War - formal notification on 12/7/1940. Repatriated to the UK. Relegated to the Class Z Army Reserve 9/2/1946.
Platoon or other sub-unit
Task or role
Joined Brigade
Prisoner of War Yes - Camp 20B, PoW Number 10215.
Died/Killed in action
Home address
Source table 11DLI

We were fortunate in having been sent, from his grandson, a transcript of an extract from Private Hudspeth's wartime PoW diary and this is set out below:-

Joseph Armstrong Hudspeth - POW Stalag XXB

Evacuation from Magdeburg 23rd Jan 1945 - The 2nd march this war.

We left here 2am with 4" snow underfoot + the weather very cold. Were told by the German under officer(?) that any man who fell out of the ranks would be shot. My party was 90 strong.

We crossed the river Pagat(?) half hour later with the rest of Stalag XXB - about 3000 all told. Incidentally we were fortunate enough to miss a Red X food parcel + cigs that were due to us, Willenburg having received theirs, to the tune of 1 parcel per man + 70 cigs. All that we managed to get was 8 fags per man at our first halting place (SPANGAU) 33km. Here we slept in a field at roughly 20 (degrees) below freezing. Met a chap here i know from Ushaw

Moor. He + his other 2 mates had a couple of sledges between them + was I pleased, because I was able to load my kit on to one of them, which saved me from carrying my kit (30 lbs). The hardships from this day on were pretty bad. We went 5 days without any food being issued by the Germans. This meant that our own food, which we had brought with us (as much as we thought fit) had to be consumed, but thanks to the Red X, I knew what food we had would see us alright for a fortnight or so. 

On the 5th day we received 1 loaf between 5 men (BÜTOW). On the 28th Jan we received 2 loaves between 7 men dry bread which we soon had eaten. We slept mostly in barns each night. I slept in a pig sty one night + in the roof on some wood huts along with another 500 men, but had to sit all night with no room to lie down. We carried on pulling the sledge day after day walking 12-25 miles daily, 25 miles being the longest march. I could see that two of my chums were about all in, with the cold + lack of hot food, our tinned food being frozen, likewise the bread. Finally they had to be taken to hospital unconscious, + what happened to them afterwards I haven't been able to discover.

A week later we had to dump the sledge, after having them walked 200 miles. Blackett & I decided to make a break-away in search of food, because all we were receiving to eat were 3 or 4 potatoes each night cooked in their jackets, which we got from the farms where we stopped nightly. The first halt we saw a wood we made for it, our only danger being a guard with an Alsatian dog. We thought the snow would stop the dog from following us. Our plan worked, & we made a break(?) we we(?) given 2 potatoes each. The next house we got 1 loaf & a pint of milk from a Polish woman married to a German. We received 3 loaves that day, but ran into another lot of English lads - about 500. This was roughly 12 hours later. The Germans in charge stopped us and asked questions, but we got away with it by telling them that we had been ill. Our food from here on, was mostly 5 or 6 potatoes, apart from a halt we had lasting 8 days, where we received 2 loafs each day -(mid morning & evening) & about 4 times that stay, a loaf between 6 or 9 men, which was pretty low rations. The lads by this time were very weak & were dropping out on the road. Luckily, we received 4 Red X parcels amongst 5 men (Canadian) during our march of 9 wks & 3 days, plus a half & one-fifth of an American food parcel, which brought our total up to 1.5 complete parcels for the whole trip. We reached Magdeburg on Good Friday, weak as children, & were placed in rooms measuring 20' x 30', 70 men to each, which was grossly overcrowded, & had to sleep on dirty straw on the floors, with no facilities for washing or de-lousing, & only a 6-seater lavatory for 1,000 men.

Had to work after 3 days (300 men) building a side-line for the railway. The men by this time could hardly walk through lack of food, our rations being 1 litre of carrot or barley soup (no potatoes) & 1 loaf between 7 men (4500gr/7 = 220grammes) of dry bread daily, nothing being issued for spread. No chance of a wash for a week after working 12 hrs per day. All we live on are rumours & the hope of a quick finish to the war. The first man dies last Wednesday 5th April through malnutrition.

Left Magdeburg 11th April ? Evening(?) English & American tanks advancing twenty mile from us had to walk through smoke screen guns now shelling town 6 o'clock expect to be recaptured any day, fourth man died today mostly through under-nourishment.

expect Red cross parcels tomorrow 18th April 800 English 200 American troops all hungry - just heard our guns about 40 miles away marched 20 miles today  very warm, four American dive bombers over-head causing considerable damage  to petrol dumps - 140 kilos since leaving Magdeburg} 19th April still no red cross  had nothing to eat for the last 48 hrs } Parcel among 4 men arrived } one parcel a man 

Americans 8PM 20th April three days here still no bread about 100 planes bomb dump near

fire one mile away American guns can be heard about 20 mile away although suffering with hunger the lads are in good spirits looking forward to be taken by  Yanks } April 23rd Yesterday 10 men to a loaf today 15 men Yanks only 12 mile  away all men very hungry 24th W*****burg 2 mile shelled by Russian 

German troops throwing rifle away while fleeing with thousands of civilans on the run supposed making for our lines 10 miles away (?) age standing by to r*****

American troops entered village Go**** 11PM 26th and look us over excitement great took a large white loaf of Americans also half pound of butter first for 4 years

***** unable to make sense of most of last line*** 950 miles {Halle}

It is hoped that more family information will be forthcoming in due course.