Merchant Navy Prisoners of War

The MILAG Camp Site

May 6th, 2012

The MILAG site has been frozen in an unfinished state for many years due to our inability to access it via our previous ISP.
It has just moved to a new ISP and will need to be rebuilt
The new format will be easier to maintain and for you, our visitors, to make comments direct to the site

Thank You

Gabe Thomas
President Merchant Navy POW Association


May 19th, 2012

Lord Coe ( photograph from Wikipedia)



With the Olympic Flame starting its round-Britain-journey, not many people may know that Lord Coe, KBE, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games is the son of the late Percy Coe, one of the few surviving crew of the A D Huff shelled by the German Battle Cruiser ‘Gneisenau’ and sunk in the Atlantic off Newfoundland on the 22nd February 1941.

That day the Gneisenau together with the Scharnhorst, had attacked and sunk five ships: the Lustrous, the Kantara, the Trelawney, the A.D.Huff, and the Harlesden.

Rescued by a German ship and transported to Bordeaux. The Merchant Navy Pows were initially held in atrocious conditions at St Medard en Jalles.

Percy Coe and the Canadian bosun from his ship jumped from the train taking them to Germany and made their way to Spain where they were imprisoned for 6 months by the pro-Hitler authorities.

Eventually reaching Britain, probably via Gibraltar or Lisbon, they discovered they had been presumed dead as the Germans had a deliberate policy of concealing the names of ship survivors for many months.

Percy Coe died  in 2008 whilst Sebastian was at the Beijing Olympic Games.


The Merchant Navy

February 25th, 2012

“Their job was to steam on and on and on, which they did through thick and thin, to their eternal credit and our sincerest admiration”
Anonymous British Naval Officer

Despite being officially classed as non-combatants and hence not liable to capture, the German authorities created a special camp for Allied merchant seamen and their civilian passengers. At first Milag (a Marine Internment Lager) was merely a barbed wire compound (Stalag XB) inside the Sandbostel concentration camp. Eventually, as a result of protests by the Protecting Powers, the seamen were marched away to Westertimke where they had to build their own huts and fence themselves in.

Some 4,500 merchant seamen from the British Empire, the USA and from all over the world, spent up to 5 years in captivity in this camp.