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Cyril William Cossgrove

Identity

  • Title
    Mr Public - Chris - Other relative - 28 February 2020 - Family
  • Forenames
    Cyril William AWMM
  • Surname
    Cossgrove AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    1412 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown AWMM 32 Pirie Street, Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mr W.W.C. Cossgrove (father) 32 Pine Street, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Pre 5 January 1940 AWMM Single AWMM

Service

Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 3 October 1939 AWMM
    Age 24 AWMM
    Clerk AWMM
    AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Embarkations

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    • WW2
      Greece, Europe List of 2NZEF POW (MS 2009/8)
    • WW2 POW - Stalag XVIII-A, Wolfsberg, Austria 2NZEF, Germany and German occupied territories : imperial prisoners of war alphabetical list : section 4. N.Z. 1945.
      Germany, Europe 2NZEF, Germany and German occupied territories : imperial prisoners of war alphabetical list : section 4. N.Z. 1945.
    • WW2 POW - Stalag XVIII-A/Z, Spitall Drau, Germany AWMM
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
    • WW2 4 years, 1 week and 3 days AWMM
    • WW2 Escaped or evaded capture. Date Interrogated: circa 8 May 1945. AWMM
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number
    WWII 4411 AWMM

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • "At the start of World War II Grandpa volunteered to go to war, something which he later said to me was the stupidest thing he had ever done. Despite this comment he was proud that he signed up in the first echelon. His official sign up date was the 3rd of October 1939 and he was aged 24. The last entry in his paybook prior to capture was 4 April 1941. He was a Lance Bombadier (one stripe) in the 4th Regiment and travelled to Europe via Sydney, Perth, Colombo and then to Cairo, Egypt. His rank was a result of his ability with trigonometry. This would have been an essential skill to successfully do the job of a Bombadier.

    Prior to his eventual capture he went to Jerusalem (I am unsure as to why) and while in Egypt he climbed the highest pyramid. He could not remember the name of the pyramid but assured me that it was the highest. In addition to this he also used to enjoy playing social Soccer/Rugby in Egypt. He was a part of an army social group and as a member of the band he played an instrument described as a mandolin or a cross between a banjo and mandolin.

    In terms of training he did not give me any details on the training or the length of time it took. I know that his combat experience was mainly in Greece where he went to Athens and into Central Greece. He may have also seen some action in Africa against Rommel's troops although this is unclear. In Greece, his regiment was driven back to Southern Greece where he was captured hiding in the hills near Kalamata along with several thousand other soldiers.

    He became a POW and was imprisoned in Stalag 18A at Spittal-on-Anderdrau in Austria. Anderdrau was the river, which Spittal was located on. Spittal was a part of Austria during the war but Grandpa suspected that it might now be a part of Yugoslavia as it was right on the border. Grandpa was a POW for 4 years, 1 week and 3 days.

    Other placenames mentioned were a working camp called Ober Villach and a place called Mallnitz. He also mentioned the name Marburg or Maribor. I do not know the significance of Mallnitz or Marburg/Maribor. He also stayed in hospital at Buch in Northern Austria for an undisclosed illness.

    Early on in his captivity he worked in a forest at high altitude where he often fainted. Eventually he was transferred to a valley camp. One of these camps had apple orchards where he spoke with humour of getting drunk with some other POWs on cider that was made by the farmers. The property owners were humane and he was treated well at this camp. He remembered it favourably.

    At the same camp the prisoners were allowed to use a field shower and they joked about the possibility of the women on the farm seeing them. He also expressed interest in the soap that the farmers made themselves.

    At one stage during the war he and some other prisoners approached the camp guards about climbing a nearby mountain called Grosse Glockner. Surprisingly the Camp Commandant agreed but on the proviso that some guards went along as well. During the climb which took several days the guards became tired of carrying their guns and gave them to the prisoners to carry, minus the bullets.

    He said that at the beginning of his imprisonment most of the guards were tough and in particular the German guards. Towards the end of the war the Austrian guards became tired of the whole war and were a lot friendlier. Grandpa said that if it were not for the war some of them would have been friends. He said it was difficult to escape, as their camp was a long way from the front line. Occupied Greece and Yugoslavia were to the south, and Italy to the west, as well as Germany and Austria to the north so there was little chance of a successful escape.

    Despite this, a story my father relayed to me as told to him by Grandpa, indicated that security might not always have been very tight. They sometimes sneaked out of the camp at night to steal potatoes from under the plants in the fields and then crept back into camp again. This was during the time he worked at Ober
    Villach. My mother said that some of the potatoes were rotten and after the war he had a reduced liking for potatoes and also corn for the rest of his life.

    He also mentioned that at one stage during his captivity the guards at one camp let them into the local town to go drinking and he remembered the cobble-stoned streets of this town. This may have been closer to the end of the war and reflective of the loosening of restrictions mentioned earlier.

    He was either shot or hit by shrapnel during his service. The injury was near to his knee and he required some time recuperating in hospital. The photograph above shows him in Egypt with a bandaged leg.

    Neither my notes nor my memory are clear but at the end of the war I think the camp was opened up and they were free to go. He did say that some of the prisoners, mainly New Zealanders and including himself, commandeered a truck and drove it to Italy. There was some discussion about where to take it but Italy was decided upon and they drove to Groz/Graz, the Northern Udine area and eventually to Naples (I am unsure if they drove the truck all the way to Naples). He did say that they met up with a convoy of trucks including New Zealanders and met New Zealand forces that were helping to liberate Europe. At some stage,
    probably after his release, he souvenired a revolver which he took back to New Zealand with him and he later handed it in during an amnesty in the late 1960's.

    He spent time in Britain following his release and using a free rail pass travelled to Scotland to visit relatives including Cousin Anne Crossgrove (Crossgrove not Cossgrove).

    He returned home towards the end of 1945 and fell ill. He was in hospital for several weeks where he was in a coma for 10 days. On the 10th day he awoke, felt better and got up to have a shave and asked for some food. He was immediately sent back to bed. He asked to be discharged from hospital to be home for Christmas and was declined. He discharged himself saying he had not been home for Christmas with his family in 6 years and was not going to miss it. He never went back to hospital.

    He married my Grandmother on 9 February 1946. He found it difficult sleeping in a bed after the prison camps and often ended up sleeping on the floor. He was discharged from the army on 23 March 1946 and was awarded the NZ War Service Medal, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star and the War Medal 1939-45." (Rememberances provided by Chris Smith, February 2020). AWMM
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Death

About death

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  • Death
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference

Memorials

Memorial

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  • Memorial name

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Sources

Sources

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  • External links
  • References
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 1 (Embarkations to 31st March, 1940). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 1: WW2 41 AWMM
    • List of 2NZEF Prisoners of War. 1941-1945. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 2009/8. AWMM
    • Great Britain Army. (1945). Germany and German occupied territories : imperial prisoners of war alphabetical list : section 4. London, U.K.: Government Printer. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM
    • Nominal Roll of NZ Escapees and Evaders - 1 New Zealand Interrogation Section Book 2, Archives New Zealand, Wellington, AAAA 7393 (R25405145) AWMM

Contributors

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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
28 February 2020ChrisAuckland, New ZealandOther relative

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