My late father, Philip Radcliffe-Evans, was born in Liverpool in 1917. Before WWII he studied at the London School of Printing with the intention of entering the printing industry. Having enlisted in the army with his brother in 1939, they were both captains in the Royal Artillery and were deployed in N. Africa in the 8th Army. His brother, Bill, was killed in February 1941, and my father was captured and taken prisoner at the siege of Tobruk later the same year.
He spent a year at a prison camp at Chieti in Italy and was then moved to Germany in 1943, first to Stalag VII-A at Moosburg, Bavaria, then to Oflag VIII-F, Mahrisch Trubeau, and finally to Oflag-79, Brunswick-Querum for the remainder of the war until the camp was liberated in April 1945.
It was at Brunswick that he realised after a bombing raid of nearby industrial installations by American forces that also hit the POW camp in August 1944 that he could use the tiles from the damaged adminstration block as lithographic plates, and that a printing press could be constructed for the sole purpose of printing escape maps.
After the war, he re-entered the printing industry and became managing director of Tinlings, a firm of printers and bookbinders based in Prescot, Lancashire and nearby Liverpool. The firm was a large and successful one throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and took on many apprentices from the local area during that era. One of these was Ken Burnley, now retired and running a letterpress studio, Juniper Press, at the Bluecoat Chambers in Liverpool. He and I met in 2014, introduced entirely coincidentally by a mutual friend.
Ken remembered my father well, and I told him about my father’s war and imprisonment and the clandestine map printing press, and within minutes he said, “We have to make a letterpress book about this!” The Brunswick Printers is that book; limited to an edition of 150 letterpress copies and a further limited run of a digital facsimile.
This website is not about the story; it is about the book. We will do a book launch on Sunday 26th March 2017 at The Bluecoat Liverpool between 2.00 and 4.00 p.m. And would be pleased to meet you there. Both the letterpress and the digital facsimile editions will be on sale. There are now associated Twitter Facebook & Instagram pages for The Brunswick Printers.
The Brunswick Printers will be of interest to hand press printers, cartographers, WWII historians and those with an interest in prisoner of war experiences.
Mark Radcliffe-Evans. November 2016. Updated January 2017 and November 2019.