THE grandson of a Second World War soldier who trekked for a year to escape a prisoner of war (POW) camp is donating precious memorabilia to a Winchester museum so his story can live on.

Stephen Stoodley, 52, will donate his grandfather Hubert Lawrence’s items to the Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum, which includes a unique silk map detailing his escape route from Italy and a medal for bravery.

Sergeant Lawrence was born in Andover in 1913 and joined the Royal Hampshire Regiment at the beginning of the war.

He was declared missing in January 1943, before being confirmed as a POW the following month.

The then corporal’s next military record has him classed as free in September 1944. Between those two dates the Andover father-of-four travelled hundreds of miles across enemy-held territory and the Apennines mountain range with fellow soldier Bill Kirby.

Mr Kirby has written about the duo’s great escape, detailing how the pair decided to travel south to their own lines gaining help from locals while on the lookout for German soldiers and spies.

Sgt Lawrence’s rank was promoted after the war and he continued to serve in the army in Africa, where he died of malaria aged 35 in Nigeria in 1948. He is buried at the Commonwealth War Graves in Lagos, Nigeria.

Mr Stoodley said: “I’m interested in history I think this chap is pretty brave and I think he deserves his story to be told to more people, because he is a local brave person and not a lot of people know about it.

“I’ve had the memorabilia a few years now and since the loss of my dad a few months ago I think about how short life is, and I thought what’s going to happen to this when I go?

“I just think it [the museum] is a great place to go because he was one of them. They are the best people to look after that story, they will keep it forever, it will never be lost.”

Mr Stoodley has given the silk map, four medals, a picture of his grandfather and the picture of his gravestone in Nigeria to the museum to treasure.

A Royal Hampshire Regime Museum spokesperson said: “We are very grateful for Stephen’s donation and the Italian escape map is the first we have had in our collection.

“We have quite a lot of escape stories, Hampshire seems to be very good at getting caught and escaping but Hubert Lawrence’s escape from Italy is slightly more unique and there are more items about his escape to accompany it.

“Hopefully we can move things around so it can go on display rather than archive it. It is a really interesting story.”