Thursday 17th January
The Wellington Society had the pleasure of hosting Stamp Brooksbank OE. During the Second World War, Stamp saw action in North Africa as an officer in the Coldstream Guards. He spoke of his time there, meeting General Montgomery and being captured by the German Army, while defending the Mareth Line. His talk focused mainly on his time in captivity and how he and the other prisoners entertained themselves. While in a prisoner of war camp in Brunswick, he became the head waiter in a makeshift restaurant and put on several plays along with the other prisoners. Food was often in short supply, but not to the extent where the men began to starve. The Red Cross sent regular food parcels to the men, though they reserved chocolate as a rare birthday luxury.
As an officer, he had a duty to try to escape, making three separate attempts. Once, he was stopped on the verge of jumping out of a moving train and, on another occasion, hid inside a sewer pipe before being discovered. Stamp also described the extraordinary and successful escape of another prisoner, who pretended to be part of the family of a sick boy, brought to the camp from the surrounding countryside. The boy had been brought to the camp for medical treatment, and this prisoner was able to simply walk out of the front gates with the boy’s parents as they left.
Towards the end of the war, he was transferred to another POW camp located near a military factory. This meant that the camp was regularly bombed, as Allied aircraft tried to destroy the factory. He spoke about one particular night where an entire row of prison huts was hit by a line of bombs.
Stamp was an excellent speaker, able to relate his experiences during the Second World War to a new generation of Etonians—some not much younger than he was when he first went to Africa. He would also like us to mention his support for Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation. Further details about the Foundation can be found at http://qef.org.uk.
Tom Rawlinson OS (AW)