POW Diary of Pte J Counter 1942

Any words written in red are the notations of Joseph’s son Chris.

Joseph Counters Christmas 1942 Diary Document provided in Italy by a Catholic Church Representative

From page 5 (1 to 4 missing) to 44 (45 to 48 missing)

The words quoted beneath the calendar for each month (not recorded on this document) are taken from speeches made by His Holiness Pope Pius X11.


Arrived at camp 70 (PG70 San Georgia Italy), 5th Feb 1943. Food better, Red Cross Parcels now and again. Had a terrible 4 day journey from camp 98 (PG98 Scicily) with hardly any food, guards treated us very bad, one of the lads pinched their food, gave me some, it’s very cold in those cattle wagons,

Stevie and I snuggled in one corner was given a fag by a Givi. As good as a meal everyone had a smoke of it, the journey was very bad for the lads with dysentry, roll on a long time.

Page 6 March Calender 1943

Miss Lily Nicholson 69 King St Grieff Perthshire Scotland. (Daughter of an old lady friend)

Page 7


We have settled down now, waiting for news from home, one of the lads died another committed suicide. Food is getting better, the weather is very warm. Iam trying to get fit again, sports gear received from Red Cross, games in full swing, receiving parcels ok. Stevie and I have a birthday twice a week, am feeling a lot better now, still waiting for a letter, roll on a long time.

Page 8. April Calendar 1943

P.O.W. Mr John Sweeney 18 Hyde Street Portwood Stockport. (Somebody he met once in camp)

Page 9


Not much in the month, weather very warm sunshine all day lovely, warm nights. I received my first letter from Sadie (girlfriend) bless her; posted 18.3.43 answered it straight away, am waiting for one from home. Missionary from Rome visited us, I made my Easter Duties. Went to the concert quite good called it Cinderella. Roll on the mail from home.

Page 10 May Calender 1943

Miss Nan Forrester 2 Egmont Grove Gorsey Bank Cheadle Heath Stockport. (A friend of his sister


Page 11


Started this month in a working camp down on the farm on the 10.5.43 work is very hard 10 hours a day food is not bad. No parcels, we are split up in groups, there are eight on our farm it is called

Zunico (Casina Zunico near Milan). The people are very friendly with us, the weather is very warm at nights, it is difficult to sleep the flies are making their appearance now, still no mail from home. Roll on a long time.

Page 12 June Calender 1943

M Williams 58 Westgrove Street Bradford Yorkshire.

Page 13


Nothing unusual this month we are settling down to our work now, one of the lads tried to escape but was found out. We lost our officer through this, he was very kind to us, the new one dosent look so good we are on a months’ probation. Parcels are regular now mosquitos are biting hell out of us.

It’s very hard to sleep at night or day, still no mail yet; I’m beginning to lose all hope. Roll on a long time.

Page 14 July Calender 1943

Mlle Jeanett Masson Hotel De Lu Plage Finnistre Brest France. Zone Occupy Beselyles Gibiet. (She is in a picture in his album with him on a truck in France, her mother owned the estaminet he went to)

Page 15


Received 3 letters, two from 493 (the main camp), one from home all in two days 10 and 11 July

1943. Work is getting easier now only 9 hours a day. We heard that the Fascists have been overthrown, this gave us hope for a while but now everything is normal again. People keep saying the war will be over in ywo months, it’s hard to believe, we can only hope for the best, there are riots in Milan. Roll on a long time.

Page 16 August Calender 1943

Page 17


I am now on a new farm called Mauraglia, it’s smaller than Zunico, the work is easier. We were inoculated in the breast; very sore no work for two days. Received two letters one was from Sadie, one from Dad posted April 13th. Sadie posted it 17 June. Everything is the same otherwise. Fleas and lice are increasing can’t sleep so easier now parcels have stopped. Milan has been bombed for three nights. Roll on a long time.

Page 18 September Calender 1943

Page 19


There are increasing raids on Milan, there is’nt much left, Sicily has fallen, it shouldn’t be long now,

British Forces attacked Italy, the lads are going mad, tonight the 8th I nearly died we were having our

scilly (food) when the guard told us peace had been declared. Letter on the 9th from Mrs Thompson (he does not know who this is). Let loose 10th escaped to Piano (Carpiano), free for six days captured by Italian Police, handed over to Germans. Roll on a long time.

Page 20 October Calender 1943

Page 21

Was taken to Lody (Lodi) then Manatova, boarded a train went through the Brenner Pass into

Austria then to Muesburgh big camp, soldiers from all over the world (poor devils). We was given our first American parcel it’s a lot better than the English one, in this camp we have a market as big as some in England, you can get almost anything at a price. We had our first decent bath sine we were captured, lovely and hot we are expecting to move to another camp. Wrote a letter home.

Page 22 November Calender 1943

Page 23

Left Muesburgh (Austria) on the 4th arrived at Magaburgh in Germany on the 6th. The camp is horrible, food not so good sanitary conditions the worst possible, no parcels, the Germans really hate us here, we hear our planes going over to Berlin there’s hundreds of them going over every few minutes, there’s hundreds of refugees. We waiting for the end it can’t be long now we hope. We had one letter to send home, parcels are very few. Roll on

Page 24 December Calender 1943

Michael Williams 58 Westgrove Street Bradford Yorkshire England. (Somebody I met in the camp)

Page 25

Here we are again Christmas not far away. The bombing has stopped we don’t know why, we’ve had two parcels. We left for another camp on the 22nd arrived 23rd they are making us work in a munitions works Xmas day, not even a smoke between us. New Year the same bombers over every night, camp in Hanover area, things are worse lads refused to work, over 80 men sick. Roll on

Page 26 Music for Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Page 27 Words for Hark the Herald Angels Sins

Page 28 Music for Adeste Fideles (o Come All Ye Faithfull)

Page 29 Words for Adeste Fideles (o Come All Ye Faithfull)

Page 30 Music for Christmas Night (Silent Night)

Page 31 Words for Christmas Night (Silent Night)

Page 32 Music for God Rest You Merry Gentleman

Page 33 Words for In Bethleham in Jewry

Page 34 Music for Good King Wencslas

Page 35 Words for Good King Wencslas

Page 36 Music for A Virgin Unspotted

Page 37 Words for A Virgin Unspotted

Page 38 Music for Once in Bethlehem of Judah

Page 39 Words for Once in Bethleham of Judah

Page 40 Music for We Three Kings

Page 41 Words for We Three Kings

Page 42 Music for Evening Hymn

Page 43 Words for Evening Hymn

Page 44 Music for Lead Kindly Light

A second Book 1942 Diary Document provided at the same time as the first one. Pages 1 to 48

(Cover missing) Dad’s notes carrying on from the first book with the calender of 1943 changed by him to 1944 so it looks like he had 2 of the books to start with.

Noted on the inside cover Rfn J Counter, 14 Bank Street Cheadle Cheshire England

Page 2 January Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Mrs May Noonan 7 Bosley Road Cheadlw Heath (Sister)


Page 3


Beginning the year 44 in a working camp in Germany, they told us we have to work or else? Nothing

in the camp no letters to write no parcels no fags. Borrowed one parcel from the Belgiuns. I was

down with the flu for a few days felt pretty rotten, no treatment for it only the usual bicarb soda.

Raids have started Brunswick is getting the hammer this time. Roll on?

Page 4 February Calender 1943 changed to 1944


Mr J Wallbridge


Page 5


Parcels have come in the camp at last 2 issues (usually 1 parcel per man per week if they were coming regular) per man. We are now settled in, the Germans are not human they are just machines they hate us like poison and do everything in their power to show it. There are women prisoners working with us, mostly Russian and Poles (poor devils) their life is misery. Letters from Betty, Edna

(next door neighbour 16 Bank St)

Page 6 March Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Page 7

Everything is going as best it can; the Germans are all promises, when they see our parcels it makes them mad. Was given trousers and boots from RC, (Red Cross) had letter from Mother god bless her, how I look forward to mail now, more parcels are in, I don’t think they will stop now more raids on factories and Brunswiey (Brunswick). Roll on a long time.

Page 8 April Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Page 9

I am now working on building a reservoir on the banks of a canal; it’s as good as a rest. Changing jobs we meet a lot of different races but are not allowed to speak to them, police are always watching us.

I wonder how long it will be before all this is finished. PP (personal post) are coming in now so I am looking forward to mine. Roll on

Page 10 May Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Brother married 30 May (Bert)

Page 11

Bombing is getting worse now night and day. Bombers are over Brunwiey (Brunswick) also fighters.

Received a letter from Dad 15th also my first parcel on 17th 500 fags oh what a smoke we are having, another 700 fags come in two parcels 500 and 200. My PP should be here in no time. Weather broke for few days it’s just like Italy. Now we are well in the rackets. We nearly rule all of them. Roll on the boat.

Page 12 June Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Page 13

June the sixth we heard about the invasion of France, our troops have followed us all over the place.

I hope they catch us now. I pray to god they will I am sick and tired of it all. A letter from Dad, one from Little Nell, one from Mother. The the air raids have queitened down now. I suppose the planes are in France. I wonder how long it will be now. Roll on a long time.

Page 14 July Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Page 15

Everythings about the same, weather a bit rough though received one letter from Mother. My PP is lost I have given up hope of it. Raids have started again bombs all around our area again; as long as they keep them there everything is ok by us. The attempted assasination of Hitler, the way they treated us anyone would think we did it. Oh why didn’t they kill the!!!!!!! Roll on a long time.

Page 16 August Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Page 17

Germanys had it. Thousands of our planes come over every day and night. On the 13th our camp was hit also the French, none of our lads are hurt but 200 Frenchman was. 3 Letters, two from Grieff one from Mum and Dad. Our lads are pushing up through France like blazes. More people from Poland

France and Russia are coming in; they are treating them like cattle. Roll on.

Page 18 September Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Page 19


France is finished now Belgium also. The lads are now in Holland. Fighting inside Germany has started. Three letters on the 17th one from Little Nell (Niece Christine Lomas) one from Betty Steer (friend in Stockport) and one from WG (Dad). We have some of the Paratroopers captured in

Arnhem in our camp. I met two of my old mates from the 5th Btn. Parcels are finished, life without them is terrible we get very depressed when we havn’t them. Winter is coming in we prepare for the worst. Roll on.


Page 20 October Calender 1943 changed to 1944


Page 21

The new lads here brought news three weeks old from England it made us all very homesick.

Weather is bad nothing but rain, boots leak bad, Iv’e only a shirt and jacket roll on my pparcet. No parcels yet. We had a stand to all over Germany the lads are getting near us now, the German people beginning to realize what war is now; they are changing their attitude towards us now.

Parcels have stopped.

Page 22 November Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Very heavy raids all around us our factory (The Herman Goering Works) has been hit every night for a week now. It’s only one thousand yards away from the camp.

Page 23

The words to Leili Marlene are hand written in English

Page 24 December Calender 1943 changed to 1944

Christmas has come Parcel for two men. Have been one year in Germany now

Page 25

Latest song in Italy

Leili Marlene

Words to the song written by hand in Italian

Page 26 to 44 the same as the first book, Hymns.

From Mr Chris Counter

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