Two years in Prison Camp - airman's ordeal in Tunisia



Two years in Prison Camp - airman's ordeal in Tunisia


Sergeant observer J Douglas Hudson resting at home after being released from spending two years in French North African internment camps. Freed after British and American troop landings in November. Tells of force landing in Tunisia, internment in Le Kef, how they passed their time, escape attempts. Goes on with moved to Aumale Algeria and then to Laghouat. Mentions escape tunnel at Laghouat.



Temporal Coverage





One newspaper cutting


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Two Years in Prison Camp
Once more appreciatively sharing with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson, of 191, Halifax Road, Nelson, the comforts of his own fireside, Sgt. Observer J. Douglas Hudson, R.A.F., is now taking a well earned rest after suffering the ordeals of two years in a French North Africa prison camp, and is apparently, little the worse for his grim experience. It was through the timely arrival of the British and American Armies in November that he was freed, following two unavailing attempts to escape. For a month his parents had no news of him, for he was believed to be missing.
About two years ago the aircraft in which he and fellow members of the air-crew were flying, made a forced landing of Tunisia. A certain amount of damage was inflicted on the ‘plane but apart from injuries sustained by the wireless operator all crew were quite safe and sound. In Tunisia they were interned in a prison camp at Le Kef where they were held for eight months, being very closely confined and guarded. From six o’clock each evening until six o’clock next morning the young airmen (Sgt. Hudson is twenty-six years of age) were locked in their quarters, and there were no amenities. Asked by a “Leader” reporter how he and his colleagues passef the time away during these long months, Sgt. Hudson stated apart from writing letter home which were restricted to one a fortnight, they read, and between them published a small newspaper of their own which they called “The Camp Echo” A friend of Hudson’s edited the journal, he typed out the “copy” and with the co-operation of the others among whom were a number with an artistic flair, they turned out an interesting little publication periodically.
The also spent no little time in planning escapes, one of which such escapes he made from Tunisia but was later caught on his way to an Algerian port. The food in the prison camp was deplorable being as that supplied to the Arabs – macaroni and lentils (with a little additional Red Cross food) – but less in quantity. There were not many on this camp, besides Hudson, just a few members of air crews, about 16 R.A.F. and a few other services in all. They were moved to Algeria to a camp at Aumale where they spent the summer. At this time the position of these men was raised in the House of Commons, for an attack of dysentery broke out there. They were later moved to Laghouat where they stayed until they were released by the arrival of our forces on the 12th November. In common with 28 others, Hudson attempted to escape from this camp through a tunnel 187 feet in length and which took seven months to dig. This attempt too, proved unsuccessful. In the prison there was terrific overcrowding, forty eight prisoners being housed in a room originally designed to accommodate but 24 Arab soldiers. Sgt Hudson and his colleagues were required to “sleep” in a double-tiered wooden bunks which were bug infested. Water was rationed during the summer months. The lack of food and of cleansing materials was due to the Germans and the Italians taking it over for their own use.
As was previously stated, the British and American armies invaded French North African territory on November 8th, and two days later liberated the prisoners of Laghouat. Sgt. Hudson reached home yesterday week and a few days later there arrived at his home a number of letters which he himself had written to his parents describing (as fully as censorship would allow) his ordeal many weeks ago. He little imagined when he wrote these letters that he would actually be home before they were delivered!

Roll of Honour
Mr. and Mr. Joe Berry, of 10 Albion Street, Brierfield, have this week received official confirmation of the death of their son, Sgt Jack Berry, R.A.F., who was missing after a heavy raid on Germany in September. Nineteen years of age, Sgt. Berry enlisted as a wireless operator in August 1940, and in just over a year he attained the rank of sergeant. As bomb aimer and navigator he had taken part in several raids on enemy. As native of Brierfield, he attended Walter Street School as a boy and played football with the school team, later joining the Congregational Sunday School team. Prior to enlistment he was employed in the preparation department of the Hildrop Manufacturing Company, Nelson.

To Mr. and Mrs. Knowles, 99 Scotland Road, Nelson, has come the sad news of the death on active service of their only son, Leading Aircraftman James Knowles, of the R.A.F. Twenty-two years of age L.A.C. Knowles volunteered for the R.A.F., joining in March, 1940, and previously was employed in the office of John Spencer (Burnley) Ltd., cotton manufacturers, Queen’s Mill, New Hall Street. A native of Fence, he was fond of sport and was the holder of a number of trophies for running. He was also a highly efficient swimming. He was associated with the Wheatley Lane Methodist Church.

To his parents, Mr. and Mrs, Jas. C. Allen, 9 Cross Street, Nelson has some the official news that their eldest son, 19-years-old Ordinary Seaman John Allen has been reported missing, presumed killed (on November 10th) whilst on war service during the course of operations in connection with the occupation of French North Africa. There could, it was feared be no hope that he was still alive. O.S. Allen, prior to joining the Navy eight months ago, was employed as a butcher, firstly by Read’s, Nelson and latterly by Mesrss. Wigglesworth, Every Street, Nelson. He has been a member of Bradshaw Street Football team where he distinguished himself and gained a medal. He was also a keen swimmer. Seaman Allen was a grandson of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ephraim Wilkinson, Piccadilly Road, Burnley.



“Two years in Prison Camp - airman's ordeal in Tunisia,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 1, 2023,

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