Warrant Officer 2nd Class Arnold F.A. Dawkins of Victoria, British Columbia, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. He was stationed at a base at Tempsford, England, working as an air observer when his plane was shot down over France on February 19, 1943.
After a brief attempt to evade capture following the plane crash, Dawkins was apprehended by the Germans as a Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) and soon interred at the Stalag VIII-B/344 camp at Lamsdorf (present day Łambinowice) in Poland. In the closing weeks of the war he was among the many tens of thousands in the forced marches of P.O.W.s out of Poland and across Germany ahead of the advancing Russian front. He was finally liberated by the arrival of American troops on April 12, 1945, arriving safely back in England four days later.
Dawkins began keeping a diary in April of 1942 while in training in England and continued throughout the war, even during much of his time in captivity, until July of 1945. Following the war the diary was put away until the spring of 1993 when Dawkins read it again for the first time since 1945. At that time he made some minor revisions, explaining that the “writing was so small that I had the pages enlarged and typed. Abbreviations were written out in full, expressions not suitable for family reading were removed. The rest is the way I wrote it.” The diary posted here is of the document he created at that time. Extensive descriptive/explanatory notes were added by Dawkins to the entries related to the time of his capture and the two weeks immediately following it, from Feb. 19, 1943, to March 3, 1943. These have been included here with the diary entries of February 1943. Notes were also added by Dawkins following the Mar. 26, 1943, entry relating to the historical context of the Lamsdorf P.O.W. Camp and of post-Dieppe reprisals. Other minor annotations throughout were likely made during the diary transcription by Dawkins (e.g. the entry of dates June 6-17, 1942: “no entry, probably visiting relatives in North Ireland”).
Note on place names: When recording location information in his diary entries during the forced march of 1945 Dawkins often used the place names he saw on the roadside signs they passed, and these may differ from present day place names.
W.O. Dawkins’ Service Record (Serv/Reg# R87686, P.O.W.# 27710) is not yet publicly available.
The RCAF Association provides a list of RCAF airmen taken P.O.W. from September, 1939 to the end of December, 1944, which includes Dawkins as well as some of the other P.O.W.’s mentioned in his diary.