“New” Tymbakion Shorts Special Project 2021

127 Prisoners of War and One Pair of Shorts

Can you help us give life to these 127 World War II soldiers and the story of the pair of shorts?

Tymbakion shorts project by Andrew Holyoake NZ

A pair of shorts professionally crafted was brought back from WWII by Private Albert (Bert) Edward Chamberlain. As a civilian he was a tailor and would have had little trouble turning a sheet of canvas into a pair of shorts. Bert was a driver in the 2NZEF and was captured in Crete sometime in 1941.

In the later months of 1941, the Luftwaffe set about developing an airfield in the south of Crete, close to the town of Tymbaki (Tympaki). This airfield, Tymbakion, still exists today. An Allied Air Intelligence report from 1943 suggests that the airfield was developed rapidly in the autumn of 1941 by utilising British and Greek POW labour gangs, who worked day and night. We think Bert was one of the men who was working on this aerodrome as a Prisoner of War.

At the beginning of 1942 Bert and others were shipped off to Germany and spent most of the remaining war years interred at Stalag VIIIB, Lamsdorf (also known as 344). He survived the war, returning home to New Zealand.  

The shorts contain the signed names of 127 men.  A couple of men, whose names appear on the inside rim of the shorts are men whom Bert was friends with at Lamsdorf. The others, however, in addition to the inscription “Prisoner of War Camp Tymbakion Crete” are an enigma.

One of the aims of this project is to find out if these shorts represent a partial list of those Allied and Greek POWs who laboured to build the Tymbakion airfield in late 1941. We are seeking evidence from written anecdotes and diaries, in addition to compiling circumstantial evidence, for example:

      Within the Australian Red Cross POW cards that are held in a University of Melbourne Archive there are a few references of Australian POWs sending mail home from a camp at Tymbakion in September 1941. The majority (but not all) of these men’s names are on the shorts. www.archives.unimelb.edu.au 

     The majority of allied POWs captured on Crete around 1 June 1941 seemed to have been shipped to mainland Europe by August or September, 1941. We are looking for any information about these men and the dates they were transported from Crete.

Below is a list of the men from the shorts, that we have basic information on, who may have been involved at Tymbakion (excluding those who were Bert’s friends at Stalag VIIIB, Lamsdorf (also known as 344). The names are arranged alphabetically in the following format: (surname, initials or first name, service number, POW number, country of service).

There are a few other names on the shorts that we are still working on.

From top left to right top to bottom:

Molloy, John Joseph, QX7772, 4603, Australia

Buirchell, William Roy, WX2280, 4562, Australia

Smith, Loris Richard, NX15308, 4521, Australia

Leviston, Aubrey Reginald, VX7803, 4568, Australia

Ring, Cyril WX2058 Australia

McInerney, John Patrick, NX8406, 4519, Australia

West, Leonard Gordon, VX5561, 4586, Australia

(Ainsley, J.R., 105991, 4556, England) (Armitage, Thomas Washer, 33221, 5252, New Zealand) (Baker, E., 2065377, 4596, England) (Banner, Ernest Ambrose, 7502, 5012, New Zealand) (Barnes, Harry Holcroft, NX32898, 4534, Australia) (Beacham, William Albert, 23275, 5227, New Zealand) (Bowden, Kenneth Frank, 30242, ?, New Zealand) (Bowen, Douglas, CH/X 101376, ?, England) (Bennison, Avery Francis, 5353, 5350, New Zealand) (Bentley, Reginald Guy Arthur, NX13532, ?, Australia) (Bissett, Thomas Alexander, NX13592, 4546, Australia) (Brown, George Robert William, 2393, 5441, New Zealand) (Brown, Norman McLeod, VX31518, 4559, Australia) (Brownlie, Robert Bould, 4446, 5409, New Zealand) (Buchann, Roy Douglas, VX32961, 4607, Australia) (Buirchell, William Roy, WX2280, 4562, Australia) (Busby, Ponaute, 25823, 5443, New Zealand) (Carter, E.S., S/94334, 4560, England) (Chappell, R.J., 7347150, 4510, England), (Christiansen, Harold (Harry) Anthony, 30695, 5419, New Zealand) (Collins, Andrew Walter, 5721, 24196, New Zealand) (Coombs, Gordon Maxwell, 22262, 5082, New Zealand) (Cooper, Charles George, 5566, 5164, New Zealand) (Crawford, J., 408857, 4578, England) (Davenport, J., 7259305, 4555, England) (East, Edward, 29292, 5201, New Zealand) (Face, Edward John Sydney, NX11441, 4599, Australia) (Foley, Zam James, 2996, 5200, New Zealand) (Foxon, T.V., 890183, 4582, England) (Fraser, Anthony Alexander, 30024, 5417, New Zealand) (Freeman, C.J., 148521, 4545, England) (Gaudion, Eric John Robertson, 10356, 5203, New Zealand) (Giles, C., 3964606, 4532, Wales/England) (Goodwin, E.G., 1428576, 4565, England) (Gorton, J., T/190420, 4544, England) (Grimsey, C.I.G., 148404, 4516, England) (Gusscott, Louis Patrick, 33096, 5017, New Zealand) (Hardie, Ian Alexander, WX2371, ?, Australia) (Harman, Geoffrey Bertrand, 4321, 5396, New Zealand) (Harrington, Stanley Richard, 32257, 5412, New Zealand) (Hastie, Alexander Brown, 33750, 5257, New Zealand) (Heenan, Colin William, 8571, 5411, New Zealand) (Herbert, C.M., S/154217, 4539, England) (Hewett, A., 2197321, 4576, England) (Hodson, Herbert Joseph, 20661, 5437, New Zealand) (Holt, Walter Gerald, NX12348, 5401, Australia) (Howes, George Richard, NX2918, 4580, Australia) (Hurren, F.H., S/94377, 4504, England) (Jackson, Alexander Peter, 1769, 5424, New Zealand) (Johnson, H., 888099, 4563, England) (Johnstone, Robert Aitcheson, VX8887, 4550, Australia) (Jones, Fredrick Cyril Charles, 34810, 5302, New Zealand) (Kirk, James, 1940, 4593, New Zealand) (Kollias, Anastasios, ?, ?, Greece) (Lechmere, R.J., T/203874, 4616, England) (Leviston, Aubrey Reginald, VX7803, 4568, Australia) (Lythgoe, F., (AKA Rocky), 4915533, 4547, England) (Magee, John James, 32086, 5496, New Zealand) (McDonald, Leonard Edwin, 22289, 4566, New Zealand) (McInerney, John Patrick, NX8406, 4519, Australia) (McKean, Fredrick James Dunmore, 6488, 4520, New Zealand) (McLean, A., 7902927, 4506, England) (Miller, John Walter, 7527, 4608, New Zealand) (Mitchell, B., 4973574, 4573, England) (Molloy, John Joseph, QX7772, 4603, Australia) (Moss, J., 4745238, 4536, England) (O’Grady, James Clyde, NX30721, 4597, Australia) (Osborn, J.J., 6898510, 4595, England) (Palmer, T.G.W., 7347235, 4526, England) (Pearce, Sidney Emden, NX33248, 4518, Australia) (Pedersen, Walter Vernon, VX5571, 4515, Australia)

(Pestell, R.G., T/73338, 4528, England) (Peterson, Charles Amos George, WX571, 4538, Australia) (Petrou, Ioannis, ?, ?, Greece) (Pooley, A.E., 210653, 4583, England) (Powell, Ray Edward, VX1114, 4569, Australia) (Prichard, J.H., 6849702, 4600, England) (Pullenayagam, J.P., N/A, 7297, Sri Lanka/Ceylon) (Pyatt, E., T/182533, 4558, England) (Rainford, Douglas, NX1497, 4601, Australia) (Rattenbury, John Alfred, NX6877, 5331, Australia) (Rees, Edward, 13237, 4591, New Zealand) (Rice, F.J., T/117358, 4594, England) (Roberts, G.A., 132569, 4615, England) (Rogers, J., 148797, 4557, England) (Shaw, Ernest, 8613, 4525, New Zealand) (Sherriff, Harold, 10670180, 4502, England) (Skinner, J.E., 218039, 4542, England) (Smith, Loris Richard, NX15308, 4521, Australia) (Stirling, L.D., 6846877, 4517, England) (Stratton, Herbert Ernest, WX547, 4561, Australia) (Stubbs, Arthur Gordon, 4379, 5508, New Zealand) (Stuckey, John Edward, NX11243, 4567, Australia) (Tatton, J.T., 4973903, 4571, England) (Thompson, J., P/SSX20790, 4551, England) (Todd, Arthur Skuse, 7272, 7878, New Zealand) (Topia, William, 22724, ?, New Zealand) (Tyrer, E., 905373, 4579, England) (Veevers, R., 1441331, 4552, England) (Walker, D.A., T/111909, 4572, England) (Walters, F, CH/X3473, 4543, England) (Warburton, H., 1058195, 4554, England) (Weatherall, W., 862968, 4534, England) (West, Leonard Gordon, VX5561, 4586, Australia) (Whatling, C.J., 902385, 4599, England) (Whitcombe, John Douglas, 22768, 4605, New Zealand) (Woods, Laurence Samuel, WX443, 4564, Australia) (Wynn, T.P., 898637, 4577, England)

If you recognize any names on this list, and can help with this, please make contact with us at Tymbakionshortsproject@gmail.com

Andrew Holyoake (New Zealand), Tony and Deb Buirchell (Australia). 

Thanks to Mike Smythe for hosting this search, and to Mitchell Adair for the photography.