Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 19:16 UK

Funeral of PoW Auschwitz survivor

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Charlie Evans was captured at Dunkirk before being taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland

The funeral has taken place of a soldier who was sent as a prisoner of war to the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Charlie Evans, 90, of Presteigne, Powys, was a private in 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers when wounded and captured at Dunkirk in 1940.

His captors later transferred him to the infamous concentration camp.

Mr Evans, who died in hospital in Knighton, was honoured by his former regiment last year, with the presentation of a bugle and plaque.

He was a member of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France to try to hold back the German advance.

He was wounded while in the rearguard, while trying to delay the Germans during the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk.

Last year, he recalled coming under fire from the German air force, the Luftwaffe.

I remember little kids who were totally bewildered, who didn't understand what was happening or why they were there
Charlie Evans, speaking in 2005

He said: "They were machine gunning us. It was hell on earth. They shot me through the back and, all across my chest, that was all taken off.

"They split my shoulder wide open. I was bleeding at the mouth like a pig."

In 2005, Mr Evans said he spent about a year at Auschwitz after being transferred from a prisoner-of-war (PoW) camp at Lamsdorf.

'Separated'

He would not speak of his ordeal and what he witnessed for more than 60 years.

He lost more than half his body weight during his captivity, looking "like a skeleton" and worked long hours in working parties.

June 2008: PoW on Auschwitz

Mr Evans told how he was beaten to "within an inch" of his life by SS guards at Auschwitz when he refused to work.

But he said his own treatment paled into insignificance when compared to Jews in the camp.

"We were separated from the Jews by barbed wire fencing and we'd stand and watch when trains brought in cattle truck after cattle truck of people," he recalled.

"I remember the women and children. I remember little kids who were totally bewildered, who didn't understand what was happening or why they were there.

"We'd watch them all going to the gas chambers and then horse-drawn wagons coming out with dead bodies. "

His lifelong friend Douglas Jones, also a former serviceman, said Mr Evans rarely spoke of his ordeal at the camp before he died aged 92 on 1 August.

Mr Jones, 85, said: "He came back an emaciated six stone, difficult to recognise.

"It's said that he was the last surviving Army person from Auschwitz. What I got, bits of snippets of his conversations between tears, was how he saved the life of other British soldiers from committing suicide in Auschwitz."

Of last June's presentation, Mr Jones added: "I thought in view of the absence of appreciation for his service he deserved some form of recognition."



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SEE ALSO
June 2008: PoW on Auschwitz
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PoW who survived Nazi death camp
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Prisoner recalls Auschwitz horror
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Row over Auschwitz 'gimmick' note
22 Feb 08 |  UK Politics
The good life of the Auschwitz guards
27 Sep 07 |  Americas
Glass of milk 'saved' Nazi victim
27 Jan 06 |  Wales

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