A trawl through PoW listings, using the service number written on the shed wall, shows that Pte J Bird of the Hampshire Regiment was held at Stalag VIII-B Cieszyn (Teschen) under the name JBI Bird. His prisoner number was 82950. “HOME BY CHRISTMAS” proved to be a little optimistic.
National Archives at Kew hold a German Record card in the name John Basil Iuan Bird born in 1924. Unfortunately, the on-line listing does not confirm the prisoner number, and the record itself is sealed until 1st January 2025. There is no trace of a “Returning PoW Questionnaire” in his name.
So, to discover more we went to the genealogy sites. We found a John B I Bird. in the birth register for 1924. Following that thread, further records gave us a full name of John Basil Ivan Bird. This is very close to name on the German card, and the difference between them would be an easy transcription error to make. Links to Hampshire are also there. Therefore, we are pretty sure that this is our man.
Genealogical Records for JBI Bird
John Bird was born on 18th December 1924 and the birth registered at Westhampnett, Hampshire.
The 1939 Register shows him to be then living at 173 Ealing road, Wembley with his parents and siblings. Again with a slight variation in the name – John IB Bird rather than JBI Bird. However such variances are not uncommon in that document. His mother came from that area and her family owned a considerable amount of property there.
Sadly his father, who had been invalided out of the army in WW1, died on 13th August 1944 – a month after Pte Bird was taken prisoner.
John Bird married in 1945 and had at least one daughter.
Upon his mother’s death in 1961 he inherited her house in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex. He lived there until his own death on the 17th of September 1976 at the relatively early age of 52. Was this as a result of the lingering effects of the Long March?
Hopefully, we can contact a member of his family to absolutely confirm that this is our man – and perhaps provide further details!