01 VIII 1944 POW Camp Shumen, March 1944 The Plateau of Shumen
WWII POW Camp  - Shumen 1943/1944 History

            During World War II, in the period of 1943-44, within the boundaries of what is today Shumensko Plateau Natural Park, around city of Shumen, Bulgaria, there was an active POW camp. This camp was for the English and American aircrew members, who were shot down over Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula. There were 329 prisoners of war in the camp from 9 nations, most of them from USAF. All were released from the camp on the 8 of September 1944 and went with train to Turkey.

November 25th A POW camp is established in the premises of a former military recreation camp west of Shumen. First camp Commandant – WO Georgi Georgiev
November 26th The first group of 10 POWs /1st Lieutenant Darlington and others/, shot down on August 1st 1943 arrived.
December 18th The Chairman of the Shumen branch of the Bulgarian Red Cross Organization visits the POWs and brings some cigarettes and sweets.  1st Lieutenant Julian Darlington elected a POWs’ Representative
January 10th New Camp Commandant assigned: 2nd Lieutenant Petar Petrov
January 19th –20th The wounded earlier Thomas DeGuisepe and Harrold Ross sent to the Shumen hospital
February 10th New Camp Commandant assigned: 2nd Lieutenant Dragomir Evrov. In March a picture in the camp was made by his camera.
March 12th New Camp Commander assigned: Kiril Kiriakov. A delegation of the International Red Cross Organization visits the POW Camp near Shumen. POWs complain about stolen things from the P.O. and the police during their stay in the Sofia camp.
March 27th-28th 9 packages of personal belongings sent form Sofia to their owners against receipts.
April 12th First newspaper received from the American Red Cross Organization.
Aril 27th Two Dutch POWs arrive – Lodevig and Hubertus van der Meulen
May 9th The POW Ivan Hapala hurts Modrag Timotiyevch and is arrested. Milotievich is hospitalized by July 22nd.
May 12th New Camp Commandant assigned: 2nd Lieutenant Pano Hristov.
June 3rd, 8 P.M. 4 American POWs make an attempt to escape. They were captured near the camp.
June The POW Charles Angelo stubs a loaf of bread on the guard’s bayonet.
June 28th A new group of 17 POWs arrives, but is moved to military barracks in Shumen, because of the lack of sufficient space. Next 2 groups also.
July 13th The Shumen Military Court suits the POW Ivan Halapa for his assault. The POWs are moved into the new camp premises on “Ilchov” hill /by 4 hours foot march/.
July 15th New Camp Commandant assigned: 2nd Lieutenant Ivan Vladikin
July 16th-17th A new group of 28 POWs arrives /including the “Gidi Gidi Boom Boom” crew/.
July 24th An incident during bread distribution, caused by Raymond Tyrrel /Australia/ and Erling Arson . From this date POWs walk on foot the distance from the railway station the Camp on the “Ilchov” Hill /about 2.5 km (~1.4 miles)/ Wounded POWs are transported in carriages.
July 27th Salaries paid to the enlisted men by the Swiss Legacy – a total of BG Leva 22,778.
August 24th POWs are sent to the “New Bath” public bath in Shumen, at Vasil Levski St. Before this date they were sent several times to Sountur bath in Shumen.
September 5th Two POWs are sent to the dentist’s. They go shopping and drop in a pub.
September 6th New Camp Commandant assigned: 2nd Lieutenant Georgi Visokov
September 8th

A written order from the new Government  to release the POWs received.
5.30 A.M.
– Major Walter Smith leaves to Sofia by plane.

7.00 P.M.- 12 P.M.
The Shumen Garrison Commander gives a farewell dinner to Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Grant, Major Cyril Clark and Captain Ivan Korosha.

September 9th A special train with 327 former POWs leaves for Turkey at 1:30 AM.1 POW is left in local hospital, 1 in Sofia ( A. Tasich)
September 12th 1 American,detained at Shumen hospital and 4 Americans, detained at the Ruse hospital, leave for Romania.
September 25th The POW Camp for Allied POW's  is closed. But the new history begin- POW camp for German soldiers under Bulgarian- Russian  jurisdiction...

Until July 12th 1944 the POWs were settled in a recreation camp situated 7 km west from the town of Shumen. On the ground floor, there was a mess-room, washroom and storerooms. On the second floor there were two big bedrooms – one for the officers and another for the lower ranks. A third room, situated between the other two served as a Commandant Office. The rooms were able to contain up to 120 people. On June 28th 1944 the camp was crowded to such an extent that the new-coming 17 POWs were returned back and settled in military barracks. The fact that the camp was overcrowded brought to its repositioning to a new place – in the former barracks of the 3rd Ammunition Platoon, on the plateau called Ilchov Bair (Hill). There, the living conditions for the POWs and their guard were better than in the old camp. On December 30th 1943 the Army Staff ordered the Head of Staff of 4th Division Region to request form the POWs election of a POWs’ Representative. The POWs’ Representative task was to communicate with the POWs patron country – Switzerland, through its Embassy in Sofia, for protection of their interests in accordance with the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Initially, 1st Lieutenant Darlington was elected a POWs’ Representative. He was later replaced by Major Smith. At their entry into the camp, the POWs had to personally fill in special forms, which were later submitted to the Bulgarian Red Cross Organization and the International Red Cross Organization in Geneva. POW camp was visited twice by the representative of  the International Red Cross.The POW camp was under the jurisdiction of the Shumen Garrison Commander. 

This page is to be reconstracted

American publications in 1944 about  Shumen Camp  (Courtesy of Mark LaScotte)


United Kingdom - 17 POW's Yugoslavia-10POW's
South Africa - 4 POW's Canada - 2 POW's
Netherlands - 2 POW's Australia - 2 POW's
USA - 292 POW's

copyright © 2007 - Stanimir Stanev