95 year old SSgt Cyril Henry Brandt Robinson spent the majority of World War II as a prisoner having been “left behind in Crete” with 6,000 other Allied soldiers, as he told the staff at the National Army Museum during a recent visit. Brandt as he likes to be known, was part of a group who visited the museum in October and during his visit he added his signature to the 625 other Prisoners of War (POWs) who have already added their names to the wall in the museum.
Brandt embarked with the advance party to Egypt on 11 December 1939 as a Private, and became the Divisional Signals Quartermaster Sergeant (QMS) with the rank of SSgt.
Brandt told Museum staff he arrived in Crete pre the 1st Echelon because of his role with Signals stores and remembers that the now legendary soldier; Capt Charles Upham VC & Bar was also there at the same time but training in special operations.
Brandt was captured on Crete on 1 June 1941 (German POW no. 23403) and after 7 weeks was moved from Crete to Salonika (in Greece) and from there up into Germany where he was imprisoned at Camp 344 Lamsdorf. Brandt remembers the Greek people trying to give the prisoners food as they were being marched.
Later he was moved to Stalag 8B Teschen for three months before moving to Camp 383 Hohenfels. He was part of the Long March but recalls the weather was better because it was towards the end of winter and they only marched for 3 weeks before being repatriated by US troops.
On arrival back in the UK he was not debriefed – just deloused! By the time he arrived back in New Zealand, Brandt had been away for 5 years and 9 months. He then joined TF and gained his Efficiency Medal.
Brandt was born in Blenheim on 21 January 1918 and pre-war he worked as a P&T clerk in Christchurch. Brandt currently lives in Taradale.
Read the stories of other New Zealand soldiers at war.