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StalagLuft3 in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- StalagLuft3 during the Second World War -

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    16th Oct 1939 57 Squadron Blenheim lost

    7th Nov 1939 57 Squadron Blenheim lost

    27th Mar 1940 77 Squadron Whitley lost

    10th May 1940 12 Squadron Battle lost

    10th May 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

    11th May 1940 88 Squadron Battle lost

    12th May 1940 57 Squadron Belenheim lost

    12th May 1940 12 Squadron Battle lost

    12th May 1940 12 Squadron Battle lost

    14th May 1940 218 Squadron Battle lost

    18th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

    8th Jun 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

    9th Jun 1940 107 Squadron Blemheim lost

    27th Jun 1940 49 Squadron Hampden lost

    30th Jun 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

    6th Jul 1940 18 Squadron Blenheim lost

    21st Jul 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

    28th July 1940 Fairey Battle L5502 lost

    29th Jul 1940 44 Squadron Hampden lost

    15th Aug 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

    20th Aug 1940 101 Squadron Blenheim lost

    23rd Aug 1940 142 Squadron Battle lost

    11th Feb 1941 49 Squadron Hampden lost

    9th Apr 1941 207 Squadron Manchester lost

    10th Apr 1941 50 Squadron Hampden lost

    12th May 1941 144 Squadron Hampden lost

    18th Jul 1941 21 Squadron Belnheim lost

    15th Aug 1941 15 Squadron Stirling lost

    15th Aug 1941 102 Squadron Whitley lost

    25th Aug 1941 51 Squadron Whitley lost

    26th Aug 1941 7 Squadron Stirling lost

    28th Aug 1941 21 Squadron Belnheim lost

    3rd Sep 1941 35 Squadron Halifax lost

    8th Sep 1941 115 Squadron Wellington lost

    8th Dec 1941 83 Squadron Hampton lost

    19th Feb 1942 420 Squadron Hampden lost

    9th Apr 1942 419 squadron Lancaster lost

    17th Apr 1942 114 Squadron Lancaster lost

    25th Apr 1942 107 Squadron Boston lost

    27th Apr 1942 226 Squadron Battle lost

    27th Apr 1942 107 Squadron Boston lost

    30th Apr 1942 50 Squadron Manchester lost

    31st May 1942 109 Squadron Wellington lost

    8th May 1942 420 Squadron Hampden lost

    31st May 1942 26 Squadron Wellington lost

    31st May 1942 101 Squadron Wellington lost

    31st May 1942 14 OTU Hampden lost

    31st May 1942 50 Squadron Manchester lost

    1st June 1942  150 Squadron Mosquito lost

    3rd Jun 1942 49 Squadron Manchester lost

    9th Jun 1942 460 Squadron Wellington lost.

    2nd Jul 1942 105 Squadron Mosquito lost

    19th Jul 1942 88 Squadron Boston lost

    19th Aug 1942 226 Squadron Boston lost

    2nd Sep 1942 218 Squadron Stirling lost

    2nd Oct 1942 78 Squadron Halifax lost

    23rd Oct 1943 49 Squadron Lancaster lost

    23rd Oct 1943 434 Squadron Halifax lost

    6th Nov 1942 Ventura of 21 Squadron lost

    8th Dec 1942 105 Squadron Mosquito lost

    20th Dec 1942 425 Squadron Lancaster lost

    4th Feb 1943 408 Squadron Halifax lost

    15th Mar 1943 Ventura of 21 Squadron lost

    3rd May 1943 Ventura of 487 Squadron lost

    3rd May 1943 Ventura of 487 Squadron lost

    13th May 1943 98 Squadron Mitchell lost

    28th Jul 1943 408 Squadron Halifax lost

    10th Aug 1943 15 Squadron Wellington lost

    13th Aug 1940 83 Squadron Blenheim lost

    18th Aug 1943 434 Squadron Halifax lost

    18th Aug 1943 158 Squadron Halifax lost

    24th Sep 1943 57 Squadron Lancaster lost

    11th Nov 1943 

    25th Nov 1943 139 Squadron Mosquito lost

    22nd Jan 1944 433 Squadron Lancaster lost

    22nd January 1944 51 Squadron Halifax lost

    31st Jan 1944 550 Squadron Lancaster lost

    16th Mar 1944 427 Squadron Lancaster lost

    23rd Apr 1944 77 Squadron Halifax lost

    8th Jul 1944 207 Squadron Lancaster lost.

    14th Oct 1944 115 Squadron Lancaster lost

    5th Nov 1944 44 Squadron Lancaster lost

    22nd Nov 1944 433 Squadron Lancaster lost

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    Those known to have been held in or employed at


    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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    2nd Lt Charles Matthew "Chuck" Eberhardt 410th Squadron 8th Airborne, 94th Bomber Group

    My father, Charles (Chuck) Eberhardt, was a POW at Stalag Luft 3 and I am looking for any other POW who may recall him. Please send any info to me at or call me at 972-567-0029. Thanks

    Mike Eberhardt

    F/S J. R. McClenaghan 514 Sqd.

    Having been shot down on the 3rd of August, F/S McClenaghan was interned in Stalag Luft 3.

    Alan Costello

    F/S S. Baxter 514 Sqd.

    Having been shot down on the 3rd of August, Sgt Baxter evaded capture until the 9th when he was captured in Paris. He was incarcerated in the notorious Parisian Prison at Fresnes and eventually transported to Buchenwald. Luftwaffe officers obtained his release and he was interned in Stalag Luft 3.

    Alan Costello

    Sgt. J. D. Reid 514 Sqd.

    Having been shot down on the 3rd of August, Sgt J.D.Reid evaded capture until the 9th when he was captured in Paris with his crew mates, they were taken to Buchenwald before internment in Stalag Luft 3

    Alan Costello

    Vivian Joseph "Smoky" Hibbens 234 Sqd.

    My father, Vivian Joseph Hibbens - became known as 'Smoky' during his time in Stalag VIIIB, Stalag Luft III and Stalag 344. He was an RAAF Spitfire Pilot RAAF No: 400712.

    I am writing his story in the hope that someone out there may have some more information on him.

    He was born on 16th January 1922 in Bemboka NSW Australia - and his love affair with flying began when he went on a joy flight with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith during his barn storming days around country Australia in the 1930's.

    He enlisted in the RAAF in Melbourne on 13th October 1940, and was trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme, doing his Elementary Flying Training at Narromine NSW. He was then shipped to Canada along with other successful trainees and gained his Wings at Camp Borden Ontario in September 1941. This was not without incident - along with a close friend and fellow trainee, Andy Fotheringham (an American from New Jersey who had enlisted in the RAAF in Australia around the same time. Andy was killed in action 4th January 1944), they took a plane each and 'beat up' a little town called Barrie, just north of Niagara Falls. Seeing as though they flew between the Post Office and a Hotel just above car height at 160 mph - they received quite lenient sentences. Andy was found guilty of one charge and received 21 days detention and my father was found guilty of four charges and received 62 days detention - reduced to 31. Apparently their Commanding Officer went into bat for them - being an old Airman himself from WWI, he 'understood' their folly. My father was housed very well during this time, being given every convenience - even a type writer and open leave to go wherever he liked - as long as he discreetly returned within a reasonable hour. He even went with the Service Police at night into the town to break up brawls and bring the drunken airman and 'prisoners' back to camp.

    After he gained his Wings in September 1941 he was shipped to England and was based initially in the South and then at Hawarden in Wales near Chester from where he flew Spitfires with the 234 Squadron. He then applied to go to the Middle East and in April 1942 he was shipped to the Egypt where he flew various missions until one fateful day in July 1942.

    He was ferrying a Hurricane back to his base when he ran into a sand storm. When he emerged he was . . . "attacked by 11 Messerschmidt 100F's and I played with them for about 10 minutes until I finally ran out of ammo. I tried too make a run for it but had to put down out of juice and landed smack in the centre of a German Panzer Unit". He was taken captive on the 18th July 1942.

    He was taken to Stalag VIIIB where he remained until sometime in late 1943 when he was moved to Stalag Luft III. During his early days in Stalag VIIIB he and the other prisoners' hands were tied up each day, all day. He talks of the boredom, but eventually he was made camp Librarian and he was overjoyed that he then had something to fill the hours. He made 10 unsuccessful attempts to escape by exchanging ID's and going out on working parties, hiding in garbage and linen trucks and digging tunnels. Shortly after the 'Great Escape' from Stalag Luft III he was sent back to Stalag VIIIB - by this time known as Stalag 344. I am not sure what his involvement was with this escape attempt - if any - although he wrote a couple of letters home to his mother dated the 25th and 26th March 1944 stating that he 'would be home soon'! I do wonder if he had written them earlier but post dated them in order to throw the Germans off the track.

    During his time in the prison camps he became known as 'Smoky' - due largely to his bartering for food using cigarettes. >From letters received by others - it appears that he was very popular with all and well known for his positive outlook. At one time he was almost mistakenly 'repatriated' to England as he was carrying another man's ID - something he did quite often. At one time he was Pte. S. F Weir, Prisoner No: 5239 (Working Camp E701) and at another he was Pte. D. Simpson, Prisoner No: 8033 (Working Camp E600) so he could get out on working parties and attempt to escape.

    Like most POW's his letters were full of hope of making it home 'next Christmas' or for your 'next birthday'. Sometimes he got a special message through - one such was "Oh for an hour in the Garden of Roses"! My grandmother said that she then knew he was starving - as the Garden of Roses was the local Cafe in Corowa NSW where they lived.

    I am attaching the only photo I have found of his group of POW's - but I am unsure in which Stalag it was taken. My father is the fifth from the top left back row.

    In the winter of 1945, as the Russians were advancing - he and his fellow POW's were turned out of their Prison Camp (Stalag 344) and were forced to march on what was to become known as the Lamsdorf Death March. They marched 200 miles in 15 days in the bitter wind and biting snow. There were only 72 Australians among the 50,000 who were forced to march to get beyond the reach of the advancing Russians. There were few German guards, so they patrolled the perimeter with bayoneted guns and dogs. The POW Officers were placed 'in charge' of their own group of men, who were marching in lines of three, tied together. My father was allowing one line at a time to 'disappear' in the hope that no-one would notice. However, eventually a German Guard came to my father and said . . . "more of your men have escaped than any others. I have orders to shoot you if any more disappear . . . I think you know what you have to do"! So he went at the next opportunity. Some of my father's men were found by the Czech Underground and they asked them to go and search for my father. I remember my father telling me (which was a very rare occurrence - as like most he never spoke about his war time experiences) "I was huddled under a bush half asleep and I felt a hand on my shoulder . . . and I thought 'this is it, I'm dead' . . . but it was the Czech Underground". They took him to safety in Kydne where they cared for him and nursed him back to health. He lived with them until the Americans arrived and he went with them into Berlin.

    There are several letters from the Czech people that he lived with written after the war. My grandparents 'sponsored' one of the Czech men and his wife to Australia - Joe and Anna. There is also a letter from a German Lance Corporal Ernst Rudek written on 10th July 1947 who was a guard at Stalag VIIIB who got to know my father on the Death March. He speaks of the time they fossicked for food together in the Croatian and American Prisoner of War Camps and bought vegetables for my father's mates, and of a 'Certificate' my father wrote for him at the brickworks at Falkenau when the prisoners were handed over to new guards. He wrote . . . "There were good and bad on both sides - and from my actions at that time, you knew where my sympathies lay". I believe this is the same man that later contacted my father through the war office and whom he flew to Melbourne to meet 25 years later in the late 1960's.

    After the war, my grandmother used to hold Ex POW parties. She would shut all the boys in the kitchen with the food and then sit and listen at the keyhole - it was the only way she could learn what really happened during those days as a prisoner of war.

    My father was throughout his life a great RSL man, being President of the Richmond RSL for a number of years and then the Secretary-Manager of the Windsor RSL Club. He never failed to march on Anzac Day in Sydney, after marching with his local RSL and in 1970 attended an ex POW Reunion.

    Sadly, my beloved father died aged 50 in 1972 from a heart attack. He had his first heart attack when he was only 36 - as a result of his service during the war years.

    "Some die during battle for their country - others, at another time and another place - as a result of fighting for our freedom. Their sacrifice is no less great or less honourable".

    Jennifer F. Hibbens

    Sargent Harry Tapper

    My father was Sgt. Harry Tapper, #13007264 US Army. He was captured in North Africa and taken to Stalag Luft 3, then he went to Stalag 13D. This is all of the information that I have been able to find to date, I would love to know more.

    Bill Tapper

    Gordon Craig 44 Sqd.

    My father, Gordon Craig was moved to Stalag VIIIB from Stalag Luft III after being caught up in various escape attempts. He had been shot down in Lancaster C-Charlie from 44 Squadron, RAF on the night of 6th October, 1942, during a raid on Osnabrück. He remained at VIIB until being force-marched on what became known as the Death March.

    I have a collection of letters between him and my mother, Mary Craig, written during his time as a POW, together with his prison camp and Death March diary and various artifacts, such as a polished tin 'mirror' he made to keep up his appearance (and thus his spirits) while he was there. He also wrote notes for a couple of talks he gave; apparently people with various types of civilian or technical expertise were encouraged to give talks to groups of inmates. He was involved with some of the shows they put on as well.

    My dad was a Stockton boy, he grew up in Durham Road and first flew as a auxiliary from Middleton St George. My Mum was a Norton girl from Birkley Road; she worked in the torpedo labs at the ICI during the war and often did Fire-watch Duty at night.

    My Dad and Mum died within a year of each other in the mid 1980s and are much missed. Despite the privations and sometimes horrors of my dad's wartime experiences, he always said in later years that he felt 'more alive' during the war and that life often seemed duller afterwards. On the whole, he spoke quite freely of events at Stalag VIIB, although he did refer to it as a much more 'serious' place that was grimmer and more prison-like than Stalag Luft III had been. His sense of humour certainly helped, he described a few situations that I would have been hard-pressed to find amusing had they happened to me!

    My compliments to you on the site, it's beautifully put together and a real mine of information.

    Martin Craig

    Sgt Johnny William Rae "Woofer" Culpan 149 Squadron

    My Dad, Johnny Cuplan, flew in Wellington Bombers. He was posted to No. 20 O.T.U. Lossiemouth from 24/4/1941 to 22/5/1941. From there he was posted to 149 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall from 4/6/1941 until his Wellington IC serial X9704 code OJ-B took off from RAF Mildenhall at 2329 on 18/19.08.41 on Ops to Duisburg and was shot down by a night fighter which fatally wounded P/O Mendoza and crashed at Haelen (Limbourgh) 5km NW of Roermond Holland. Sadly two of dad's crew did not survive : 82988 P.O. (Air Gnr) Michael Isaac Archibald Mendoza of Chailey, Sussex and 89386 P.O. John Christian Lynn of Haslemere, Surrey. The rest of the crew were taken P.O.W. : J/3755 P/O R.R. Henderson RCAF, POW No. 3728 Stalag Luft L3 Sagan and Belaria; 922752 Sgt C.G. Jones POW No. 23612 Stalag 357; 1250142 Sgt K.K. Sterrett POW No. 23613

    Just prior to leaving NZ, Johnny, like all young airmen training to go to War, was doing his best to get his flying hours up. Sent up solo by an instructor to do just so, he was seen by another instructor barnstorming a garden party in Christchurch. Hence Johnny had the somewhat dubious title of being the first pilot in NZ considered for a court marshall, but due to the dior need for as many pilots as possible he was put to work in the kitchens peeling potatoes, told that the best he could hope for was to be made a Sgt.

    Johnny (P.O.W. 23615) was a POW in Stalag Luft 1 Barth, Stalag Luft L3 Sagan, Belaria Stalag Luft L6 Heyderkrug. A very keen and capable rugby player, he was the NZ Rugby Skipper at Heyderkrug. Many of days were taken up with kicking a rugby ball within the compound. Kicking it very carefully, as if it did happen to land outside the compound everyone was sent back to their huts and one person chosen to retrieve the ball under the eagle eye of an armed guard. Being mindful of this, Johnny developed a very effective chip kick which he used effectively time and time again against oponents. One such oponent, a South African P.O.W. took note of this chip kick and asked Johnny to teach him the art of the chip kick and spent much of his time with Johnny honing his kicking skills. On return to NZ, Johnny and a few of his POW mates were seated in Eden Park watching the BOKS play the All Blacks. It was a low scoring game and 80 minutes was just about up - the score was equal.....when a penalty was given to the BOKS. The kick was spot on and the BOKs won much to the chagrin of the NZ rugby mad crowd. Yes, the BOK who kicked the penalty was the South African POW Johnny had taught to kick in camp....and that day Johnny was never allowed to forget, thanks to his POW mates, that he was the reason The All Blacks had lost

    Sue Dixon

    Lt Charles Eberhardt 410th Squadron 94th Bomb Group

    Does anyone know if a list of Stalag Luft 3 POWS exists which identifies which ones were housed together?

    Michael Eberhardt

    P/O R. Henderson R. 149 Sqd.

    P/O Henderson was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.

    Sgt. J. Clark 514 Sqd.

    Sgt Clark survived the loss of Lancaster DS822 JI-T when it came down at La Celle Le Bordes France on the 8th of June 1944 whilst on a bombing raid to Massy Palaiseau. He evaded capture until the 19th of July when he was picked up in Paris and taken to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, he was later transferred to Stalag Luft 3.

    Sgt. C. Alf Miners 50 Sqd

    In 1941 I trained in the Australian Empire Air Training Scheme as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and on completion was posted to the embarkation depot in Perth, Western Australia, where I discovered I would be posted to Singapore. A few days later we were told that a number of Lockheed Hudson aircraft which were to be sent by the British to Singapore for our use could not be spared and consequently we were to travel to England.

    The first part of our travels was under first-class conditions on an American passenger liner, the Maraposa, where I was fortunate to be allotted a single, self-contained cabin on the Promenade deck, much to the envy of all the troops. This ship was, of course, travelling under peace-time conditions and the food was quite unbelievable. The ship called at several ports on the way including Auckland, Fiji, Pago Pago and Honolulu. At the last named we were met by some of the local ladies who had brought their cars in order to take us on a tour of the island.

    At one of the beaches we surprised a soldier who was supposed to have made himself invisible and prepare for an invasion. I did have the opportunity to examine a Garrard semi-authomatic rifle which I had not previously seen. The American Air Force put on a show for us with a full squadron of 'Bell Air Cobra' fighter aircraft which were well in advance of those we had in Australia. I should mention that this incident happened only a few weeks before the attack on Honolulu by the Japanese.

    Our first port of call in America was Los Angeles where we were taken on a tour of Warner Brothers' film studios. After touring the studios we were given drinks and cigarettes by young starlets. We watched Bette Davis at work on a picture as well as other performers whose names I have since forgotten.

    We re-embarked and travelled to San Francisco where we boarded a train for Vancouver. We made a number of stops and at most of them there were local inhabitants gathered at the level crossings, apparently to cheer us on. Although conversation was carried out at high volume, it was a very friendly interlude. The reception was at all times very enthusiastic and we all felt that there was a strong bond between Americans and Australians. The journey was quite enjoyable and the type of country varied a lot, unlike our Nullabor Plain.

    After arrival in Vancouver we were embarked on the Canadian National train. I was very impressed with the size of the locomotives which were designed to haul their trains across the Rocky Mountains. During this trip we travelled almost exclusively by night and we were given the days to see what we could of Canada. The highlight was in Ottawa where, to secure better photos, we entered the tallest building we could see. This building we discovered was a Government office housing the Department which dealt with the inhabitants of the northern ice-bound regions. We met a Department officer who went to a great deal of trouble to explain the difficulties and the way in which they tried to overcome them. The places at which we stopped which spring most easily to mind are Jasper and Toronto which are quite beautiful. We travelled right across Canada on the train which had the American style Pullman sleeping cars, the journey taking about a week.

    At Halifax, the end of the line, we boarded a troop ship, The Warwick Castle, a vessel of 20,000 tons and which was cleared to join a 20-knot convoy. My good fortune still held for this ship had not been converted to the usual troop ship but still had four-berth cabins. We were provided with a strong escort which included a light cruiser and a number of destroyers. We saw little action on the Atlantic crossing although when we counted the ships each morning there appeared to be some missing. We saw a demonstration of the ability of these escort ships when a warning of a submarine attack was given. The sight of these ships speeding around making rapid, sharp turns and throwing depth charges was something I will never forget. On this day the swell was described as 'moderate' but I think sailors are very conservative. I did not discover whether these depth charges caused any damage to the submarine. Over one day and night we encountered a severe gale when the sea swamped the boat deck making the biggest waves I have ever seen.

    On arrival in England at Greenock, we disembarked and travelled by train to Bournemouth on the south coast. On the first night a small bombing raid was mounted by the Germans and although only a small number of aircraft was involved, some damage was inflicted and particularly to one of the nicest hotels. Our training did not include instruction on what to do in an air raid so we went to an air-raid shelter which seemed to be overcrowded and, I thought, the reception was somewhat hostile so we decided to go to the nearest hotel where we spent a pleasant evening despite the 'dressing down' I received for being too slow to close the blackout covers over the door. For some reason the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) were concerned this small light could be seen from the enemy aircraft and would precipitate an enemy attack.

    I was posted to the Operational Training Unit near Doncaster and then to the squadron at Lincoln which, unfortunately, was equipped with 'Manchester' aircraft. We flew operations one night and had the next day at leisure. In order to perfect the methods to be used in the planned '1000 bomber raids' it was decided to send 250 aircraft per night for two nights consecutively on each target which were the cities of Lubeck and Rostock which had a ball-bearing factory and submarine pens respectively.

    On the first of these raids on 28 April, 1942, we were instructed to attack Rostock at 12,000 feet and 'glide' bomb at 10,000 feet. I should mention that the 'Manchester' bomber could not reach a higher altitude so most other aircraft were flying at twice our height. After releasing the bombs we experienced a major explosion some distance below us and we flipped over on to our back. The pilots were successful in gaining control and righting the aircraft which was quite close to the ground as most of the crew agreed they felt heat from the fires in the city. Later discussion arrived at the belief that the explosion was a shell from a demounted cannon from one of the 'pocket' battleships. After this, the trip back to base was uneventful and we reached our squadron in Lincoln. The aircraft was fairly badly damaged, especially at the rear, by light and medium anti-aircraft fire. By some miracle the rear-gunner was not hit. On touchdown, however, a 500lb bomb, which had apparently been hung up on the bomb rack came out of the bomb bay from the starboard side and ran along the ground beside us for some time before it veered away. Fortunately, it did not explode.

    Two nights later, on 30th April, 1942, we were instructed to lay mines around the 'pocket' battleship bottled up in Kiel harbour. This entails flying at an altitude of 500 feet at 150 miles per hour, straight and level. As I remember, this night was lit by a full moon and everything, including our aircraft, seemed brightly illuminated, which gave an uneasy feeling of insecurity. In addition, our instructions lead us further into Germany than any other bomber on that night which meant that for several hours we were the only intruders over enemy territory. As we proceeded on our way back to base it was discovered that one of the 1600 lb mines had hung up on the bomb rack and was still with us. The normal manoeuvres did not dislodge it so it was left in the bomb bay.

    As we approached Denmark we were attacked by an ME 110 night fighter from below, which meant he was not seen and the first indication was a burst of gunfire. I was flying in the mid-upper gun turret on this night and a burst of cannon fire entered the lower portion of the turret, under my left arm and out through the Perspex in the top of the turret. I then saw gunfire at the rear of the aircraft and decided it was aimed at the rear gunner and as I saw no answering fire concluded he had been hit. I then requested the wireless operator to investigate.

    I was able to fire a burst at the attacker who was below us and travelling in our direction. Unfortunately, the downward angle of fire was too steep and the guns jammed. I had further opportunities later the last of which was when the enemy appeared to have broken off the attack and went under us from right to left. The German rear gunner was still firing and as my gun came to bear, I fired and his firing stopped. My assumption was that I had made a hit.

    I then saw that our port engine was on fire and although the pilot took all available action, including trying to feather the propeller, nothing worked and the fire increased. Due to enemy action our landing lights were activated thus lighting up the aircraft like a beacon. These were later extinguished and the order to abandon the aircraft was given. In order to vacate the turret it was necessary for me to step on to the arms of a chair beneath me and then get out. However, my foot slipped and I fell and was caught by the release buckle of my parachute harness on the floor of the turret and was swinging in mid-air. I managed to free myself and fell, fracturing my collarbone. My parachute was packed beside the door at the rear of the fuselage but the fire had beaten me to it thus rendering it useless. I then checked that the IFF radio (Identification "Friend or Foe") had detonated. This occurred as I looked and suffered some burning to my face.

    By this time, the pilot had decided to land on the sea, which he did but was unable to pass on his decision to the rest of the crew as the intercom was not working. Following the decision to bail out, the front gunner and second pilot had attempted to open the escape hatch in the bomb aimer's position. Although it was jammed it eventually opened and the front gunner jumped. Unfortunately, the aircraft had descended to about 100ft and he was killed instantly. The second pilot then dived and swam to the side. We had landed on a sandbank but when the aircraft settled down it was found that he was trapped by the foot. The surviving crew members climbed out through the astrodome on to the starboard wing and between us we managed to free him and get him on to the wing.

    As we could still see the searchlights operating on the shore it was an indication that we may be close enough to be able to walk there. The water we were in came up to my neck and when I tried to inflate my 'Mae West' lifejacket I was unsuccessful. The jacket was shown to me the next day by a German guard and had two bullet holes running parallel to my body. There was no life raft in the aircraft so our position looked a little precarious.

    We started to wade and I tried to help the injured pilot but as his left leg was damaged, he had to lean on my injured right collarbone which was extremely painful. When I thought I could not continue we fell off the edge of the sandbank into deeper water and so had to return to the aircraft.

    We discovered that the aircraft's force of impact on water and/or sandbank had caused both engines to be thrown forward twenty to thirty feet (about ten metres). We sat on the edge of the port wing watching the oxygen bottles and other objects exploding, one of which exploded with enough force to send the two of us from the wing into the water. The pilot then returned to the aircraft and emerged with the survival kits. There was one for each crew member, containing necessities to sustain us for one or two days. This included a small bottle of rum, which was most acceptable.

    About 5.00 am an inflatable boat containing two occupants with Schmeiser submachine guns came to pick us up. When we were about half way to shore one of the petrol tanks on our aircraft exploded which looked very dramatic, particularly as we realised that if the Germans had been half an hour later we would still have been on the aircraft.

    We were taken into the Sylt Luftwaffe headquarters and locked in a room. Our clothes were taken for drying and we were given hot soup. During the morning there was a loud explosion and some time later a lot of yelling. I later discovered that five German technicians went to examine our aircraft which was unfamiliar to them and while they were aboard the mine exploded killing all of them.

    The pilot of the night fighter, Flying Officer Koeberich, came to see us during the morning and told me he had broken off his attack due to a fire in one engine and was preparing to land his aircraft when I saw him. He also advised that his gunner, Corporal Schubert, died that morning of gunshot wounds. From a report given by his replacement gunner, he was a successful pilot. When Reichsmarshall Herman Göring heard the details of the loss of the ME110 night fighter and the death of the gunner, he took the view that the Sylt Commandant had been negligent in sending assistance to his downed air crew and therefore the delay caused the gunner's death. This officer was relieved of his command at Sylt but I do not know the final result of his punishment.

    Flying Officer Koeberich talked for some time in a friendly manner and described his training. He was recruited before the war and had had at least three years night fighter experience. At the end of our conversation he insisted that I receive some bandages. This was followed to the letter and I was presented with a two inch wide bandage to set a broken collarbone! Flying Officer Koeberich was later killed in a Royal Air Force air raid at Quakenbruch on Easter Sunday in 1944, when a bomb struck the air raid shelter he was in and the roof collapsed on him.

    Our two injured crew members were taken to hospital but when I asked for some treatment I was ignored and this was repeated at each of the camps in which I was later interned. I cannot explain the reason for this but I was told on capture that as an Australian I had no right to be involved in this war. My injuries were not severe but treatment would have been beneficial. I had a broken collarbone, a broken nose, small fragments of shrapnel in my right thigh, Perspex splinters in my face, burns to face and hands and some damage to my knees. The two injured crew members were repatriated during 1943 in a prisoner exchange.

    The pilot and I were transferred to Frankfurt for intensive interrogation and while there a bomb was dropped on the camp which destroyed some of the perimeter fencing, which caused a fair amount of excitement amongst the Germans. During the period of three days, I was locked in a room containing a bed, a table and a chair and waited for the interrogator. I was lucky enough to find a piece of a needle and a small piece of mirror. With these implements I passed the time digging out the Perspex splinters from my face.

    We were then sent to Stalag Luft 3 passing through Hamburg. While on the platform, waiting for the train, we were joined by other prisoners and when the train pulled into the platform and we started to embark, the crowd on the platform which was now fairly large, started to push forward towards us which looked fairly dangerous. Our two guards pushed us into the carriage, jumped in and slammed the door behind them. They then made a great show of the fact that they were armed. Fortunately, the train left without delay.

    Some distance from the station we saw evidence of airmen having been murdered. We arrived in Sagen and except for some prisoners from other camps who were to act as cooks we were the first batch in this camp. We spent about a year in this camp and were then transferred to Heyderkrug Stalag Luft 6 near the Baltic coast. After being sent to several other camps we finished up at Fallingsbostel and later were sent on a forced march, ostensibly to Lubeck. This was terminated after some weeks when we made contact with the British flying column who brought in some arms. I eventually returned to England on 7 May, 1945 in time to celebrate the end of the war.

    As previously mentioned we were the first prisoners to go to Stalag Luft III but soon prisoners from other camps started to arrive and with the increased number of aircrew being shot down due to the escalating number of aircraft being used in each raid, it was not long before the camp was officially full.

    At this time the camp consisted of only one compound in which prisoners were housed and a large compound for the administration block. The camp had been carved out of a pine plantation and the vorlager was still littered with stumps where the trees had been felled. Other huts were built until the maximum was reached. This left only enough room for a parade ground where the twice daily counts were conducted.

    The huts were designed to hold about 100 prisoners in each and were divided into two rooms. The only furniture consisted of two-tier beds originally fitted with full sets of bed boards on which were placed mattresses filled with straw, often wet. By direct order from the Chief of the Luftwaffe, Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, we were not permitted to leave the camp for any purpose including working on farms. The concentration, therefore, became fixed on the food we would eat when we got back home and the method we could use to accomplish this. Many harebrained schemes were put forward in all sincerity but in most cases the proponents were persuaded not to try.

    One aspect of this, however, probably had some good effect. Realising that any successful escape must involve a great deal of walking, many of us decided to exercise as much as possible and as the only method available to us was walking, we took this up. Due to the large number of men wishing to walk on the one available track which was around the perimeter fence, keeping clear of the warning rail, it was agreed that we would walk using only left-hand circuits (all turns are to the left). I should mention that to cross the warning rail was tantamount to suicide as the guards had instructions to shoot for any infraction of this regulation. We had a good respect for their ability to hit their target with either a rifle or machine gun so we did not take any chances. They had to attend weekly shooting practice on the practice range which was placed within easy earshot of our compound probably as a warning. Our ambition was to walk 30 kilometres which was considered the distance we would have to travel at least in the first day and probably on some subsequent days if we succeeded in escaping. This remained an ambition for most of our time but as the effects of restricted diet took effect it seemed more like a pipe-dream.

    We were provided with personal washing facilities which consisted of a double-sided trough with a pipe in the middle holding a number of taps. It will be appreciated that a lot of water was spilt on the floor through this method and in the winter months the water froze making a hump of up to thirty centimetres in height, which made it quite difficult to use.

    After some months in this camp we were attacked by hordes of fleas and it became a daily ritual to search the blankets and exterminate the pests. After some time of enduring this, we were shepherded to a formerly forbidden area of the camp and into a delousing facility. In this building were clothes racks on wheels and we quickly stripped off and placed our clothes on them. They were then wheeled into what I can only describe as an oven. We were permitted to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower - the first in a long time. We all agreed that this was the most enjoyable way of combating the attentions of fleas. Having been established, this procedure was repeated at irregular intervals.

    We had little to do so boredom became a serious problem. On one occasion we were offered the chance to help remove the stumps of the pine trees displaced by the building of the camp which was, of course, due for extension. The Germans had dug out most of the sand from the stumps and our task was to lift the stumps out of the ground and onto a cart. We worked in teams of six and were provided with a tool referred to, almost reverently, as die maschine. I think it was designed by da Vinci and consisted of a pine log tripod with two lever, or handles, attached to it. A sling was attached to the stump and connected to hooks on the handles. With three of us on each handle the work was not very strenuous. We were paid for this engineering feat in what was known as lager geld, which was acceptable only in the canteen for the German troops and then only for specified articles.

    One task we were to perform was to peel the vegetables for the daily soup. These were almost invariably potatoes which had spent the winter stored in the underground clamps. A great deal of the potatoes was wasted because of this which allowed the potatoes to rot. The main addition to this was mangelwurzels which are an oversize swede-turnip grown for cattle food.

    Most of the ground around the huts was taken up by very small garden plots in which the owners spent a disproportionate amount of time but they still made a valuable contribution, firstly, in providing some interest and secondly, as a cover for the tunnels attempted. One of these was a garden about one and a half metres square, covered by a wooden board on which the plants were growing. The whole garden was lifted up, the operator slipped underneath and the garden replaced. Unfortunately, this was not a successful attempt. A number of such schemes were attempted but none reached more than halfway between the warning rail and the perimeter fence. If my memory is to be relied upon, this would equate to about seven metres of tunnel which, considering the difficulties faced, was quite a creditable effort. The worst feature of all this tunnelling was the fact that because the soil was impoverished sand it was vital to shore up the tunnel even over relatively short distances and the only suitable material was our bed boards. It was decided that a total of five boards would support a man's weight and from then on our beds were slightly less comfortable and this situation continued in each camp.

    It may be of interest that this was the camp from which a mass escape was made and on which the American film "The Great Escape" was loosely based. A few weeks before this escape was made we were transferred to Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug which was situated not a great distance from Königsberg which gave us all the hope that it might be possible to board one of the ferries to get to Sweden.

    After a short period of settling in we were paraded and an announcement made by the Camp Commandant that the escape from Sagen had been made and that in recapturing them, some of the prisoners had been shot. This, of course, caused a strong reaction for which the guards were prepared. They had been reinforced and our demonstration was quickly stifled by some manhandling.

    This camp, probably because of the more severe weather conditions, had brick buildings and even a shower block. Each building held about 50 prisoners in one room. A heating stove was provided but no fuel.

    Each morning we gathered at the main gate to see the new prisoners coming in. One day I saw in the group a friend whom I made at OTU (Operational Training Unit). The new prisoner was Vic Oliver, who was an instructor when I met him, resting after completing a tour of operations in which he earned a DFM. He was a talented pianist and a keen music lover and we stayed together until the war ended and he shared my unorthodox return to Britain, which is described later.

    While at Sagen I saw my first game of rugby and was later pushed into playing. I did not know the rules or objectives but received a short verbal instruction session. I do not remember the name of the position I was allotted but I do remember I was in the 'scrum', which I found very uncomfortable. Towards the end of the game all action stopped and we found that one of the players had broken his leg and was being carried off the field. This ended the game and my participation in rugby for the future. To be injured in this place was a disaster as even small wounds took a long time to heal.

    One story is that of a young Polish pilot who had joined the RAF in a Polish squadron after the German occupation. He was subjected to a considerable amount of enticement and threats to encourage him to join the Luftwaffe. His parents were reputed to live about twelve miles from the camp. He was promised almost unlimited visiting privileges but did not waver in his refusal which, considering the state of hostilities was a very courageous stance.

    One of the saddest stories is that of an 18 years old gunner. He had joined the regular RAF and on 3rd September, 1939 was sent on a raid on a city in France. He was shot down and spent a considerable time as a prisoner. The trauma proved too much for him and his mental control was affected. We tried to have him included in the prisoner exchange which was carried out in 1943. I am not sure whether he was included but I believe he was as I did not see him after that time.

    At each of the camps in which I was held someone had managed to create a radio on which we were able to receive the BBC news. In addition, we were told the German version of the progress of the war and we were, therefore, able to put together what we thought was a reasonable assessment.

    At Heydekrug we were permitted to transform one of the wooden buildings into a theatre. We all laboured hard to do this. By working on this project we were able to steal some of the wood off-cuts which we used in our "blowers" to heat water to make tea. The apparatus was really a small forge made from food tins and with a belt-driven fan they were very efficient and boiled a 'billy' with very little fuel.

    The theatre, however, was intended, in part, to deflect unwanted attention from the search for the radio. Because the local Gestapo had taken over camp searches, the possession of a radio could have had dire consequences so it was decided to burn down the theatre. This occurred late at night and although the German guards tried to extinguish the fire they could not and we were called upon to join the bucket chain. The search for the radio became less intense although regular searches of barracks and personnel continued.

    There was a game which was played, as in other camps, where inmates, after being counted, would move to another group to be counted a second time. One night the parade went for an extra two hours much to the chagrin of our guards. When the count exceeded the full complement of the camp we considered we were victorious. This game rebounded on us the next day when the local Gestapo took over the count. During this period the barracks were minutely searched and we spent about eight hours standing in snow waiting to be dismissed. In order to fill in the waiting time, I engaged in conversation with one of the guards to discover his version of the state of the war. This was a complete failure but produced some humour. He was upset about the poor performance of their Italian allies and suggested that if our side would accept them as allies the Germans could win the war.

    On a later search we were taken to a Gestapo colonel for interrogation and personal search and to show his authority he broke my last two cigarettes and threw them out on the pretext that I might have had a compass hidden in them. This wanton provocation made me lose my temper and I protested rather loudly for which I was hit from behind and commenced serving seven days solitary confinement in the camp "cooler".

    One morning one of the guards in a postern tower heard that his family had been killed in an air raid the previous night and he opened fire with his machine gun. A number of near misses occurred but I did not hear of any casualties.

    The impossible escape ideas still came up. While walking just before dusk I saw two of our number lying in a shallow creek which ran through one end of the compound. They had the intention of digging under the fence after dark, fortunately, they were persuaded to give up the attempt.

    One of the English prisoners had apparently spent a considerable amount of time in pre-war Germany and could speak the language well enough to pass as one of them. I do not recall his name but he seemed to be able to go out and in at will. On one occasion he agreed to escape and gather information to help an escape bid and then return. He later vanished from the camp and enquiries elicited the statement that he had been sent to a holiday camp - a statement that left us full of foreboding.

    After about twelve months at this camp we were transferred to another in Thorn in Poland. Transport was in the usual horse boxes which were always labelled '40 hommes-10 horses'. These railway vehicles were divided into three sections, the end ones for the horses and the middle for their attendants, in our case, for the guards. The wagons were built with rather heavy planks with a gap of about 75mms between them. The wagons were not sufficiently wide to allow us to lie down straight and so were rather uncomfortable.

    When entering Thorn railway yards I was dismayed to see groups of women under guard and re-ballasting the tracks. This involved using picks and shovels. By the way they swung the picks they must have been in great fear.

    On arrival at the camp we were ushered into a reception area which was filled with three-tier beds and wet straw mattresses. We were, however, only kept in that place for a few days and were then transferred to our new homes. We discovered that a large number of Australians (AIF members) were being held here and I even met one who was a friend of my future wife. My stay in that camp convinced me we were bringing a lot of trouble on ourselves by our actions.

    We had been told in England that if we became prisoners we were to attempt to escape if possible and to cause enough trouble to ensure that as many of the German forces as possible were required as guards and I believe we all followed this course fairly successfully.

    The practice of locating Prisoner of War camps next to service establishments was followed and at Sagen we must have been next to a Luftwaffe camp charged with testing new models of aircraft. One ME110 used to make an extremely low-level pass over our camp each morning until an idiot threw stones and eventually hit the aircraft. This could have resulted in a large number of casualties as most of us were out waving encouragement to the pilot. We were later privileged to see testing of other models, such as, the new two-engined super dive bomber.

    At another camp (probably Fallingbostel) we were next to a rocket testing site. These were not the big ones like the V1 and V2 rockets but rather limited to about 1.0 to 1.5 metres in length. There seemed to be a problem with steering as large numbers careered wildly on the way up and crashed back to earth - fortunately not in our camp.

    Events of great interest were the sight of Mosquito aircraft being pursued by German fighters and relying purely on their superior speed to escape. A similar occurrence was sighted when our first jets showed a clean pair of heels to the FW190's (Focke-Wulff 190's), which were probably the best of the German fighters.

    Some time later we were transferred again, this time to Fallingbostel. The camp was not very different to others and had brick buildings. The interesting item was the small road roller used to collapse tunnels. However, the distance was too great from buildings to the fence and to my knowledge only one succeeded in reaching this distance and was collapsed. Another radio operated in this camp and our spirits soared and sank as the fortunes of war changed.

    One aspect of prison life which was not too pleasant was the use of guard dogs to enforce orders. This was more prevalent after the daylight raids on Germany commenced. We were supposed to proceed to our barracks and not make any gestures which could be interpreted as signals to the aircraft. After shouted orders followed by threats with rifles, the dogs would be let loose which had an immediate effect with prisoners running madly for shelter.

    The trip to Fallingbostel turned out to be an interesting interlude. We were crowded into the usual horse wagons and at one station, which had a large marshalling yard, we stopped and the guards left the train. Naturally we tried to assess the chances of getting away but as some of our members tried to open the wire doors we discovered that each wagon was guarded by a young soldier equipped with a sub-machine gun. An ambulance train carrying many Red Crosses passed us heading in the opposite direction and the inmates appeared to be very fit to our eyes.

    Shortly after this we were attacked by three American Lockheed 'Lightning' aircraft. I was climbing the wall for a better view when firing started and dived for the floor. A number of nasty holes appeared in the walls but we decided we were probably not the prime target as on the second set of rails from us stood a train of fuel tankers some of which were burning.

    Later that day as the temperature started to drop we stopped to cross another train heading in the opposite direction to us. As this train neared we heard the most unearthly sound, which was spine tingling. The train consisted of steel wagons covered in pig netting and the noise was made by Frenchmen being transported as slave labourers to Germany and were crying for help to relieve their sufferings. We could do nothing for them but their cries gave me nightmares for some years after the war. I cannot imagine how many were in the wagons and how many could have survived the night.

    From the camp at Fallingbostel we were able to hear the sound of the canon at the time the crossing of the Rhine was being pursued. This continued day and night for some days and when we found out the attempt had been successful we were elated.

    About this time the Germans apparently decided we were of some value to them and arranged an evacuation. We were to travel by train to Lubeck but when we arrived in Hamburg a large air raid was in progress which did considerable damage to buildings and railways. As our train could not proceed we were required to finish the journey on foot. Our route is now a mystery to me but I do remember passing through Schleswig-Holstein and days later crossing the river Elbe by ferry which looked like a small landing barge. During this embarkation of about 100 prisoners, two British aircraft appeared. They came down low but did not fire, much to our relief. We then walked about 30 kms per day sleeping in barns on farms each night. We did, however, have a rest day on Sundays. Our biggest fear was that of being 'strafed' by British aircraft and indeed this happened to the group which left after ours. We did, however, become adept at diving into the ditches on each side of the road.

    Early in the march most of us suffered from an internal complaint which struck suddenly and left no time to seek a suitable location. The first two casualties occurred one morning and they dropped behind. Two guards stayed with them but I do not remember them ever rejoining the party.

    My own case was more amusing. We had stopped in a barnyard and dug a hole. There was no cover so the hole was in plain view from the road. While I was using this convenience two girls drove up in a wagon of potatoes and waved quite vigorously. They were not in a hurry and were quite happy to stay and talk to the group.

    Later in the march some of the guards left us, apparently deserting military service. The sergeant in-charge managed to obtain bread at each town except for one which gave him flour, which we could not cook and so we went hungry.

    One night, while being overcome with an attack of our illness, I shot out of the tent we were using, dived underneath the bayonet of the guard and went to the hole. He followed me and when he saw what was happening he left me alone. I did not return but decided to try to escape which, considering our condition and location, was a very stupid choice. When daylight returned I found myself in another farmyard which sported an extremely large clump of what looked like rhubarb. I decided to hide in them until I planned my next move.

    There was a fairly large building about 250-300 metres away with two farm wagons outside - these were drawn by the usual one horse and one cow. Soon a number of men started loading the wagons with objects brought from the building. From my position, and considering the manner in which the objects were thrown onto the wagons, I decided they were human bodies. I have not been able to confirm this conclusion but it gave me a great deal of concern at the time. I then decided to rejoin our party if I could find a way to do so without being shot. Fortunately I was successful, thanks to the cooperation of the members of our group.

    My memory says we continued to walk east for some time, probably two to three weeks, when a guard to whom I was talking made the comment "Tomorrow, we will be the prisoners and you the guards". Despite my probing he would say no more. By some means which I cannot describe, we found out that a flying column was approaching and that the army would not be too far behind.

    Early the next morning we took off through the 'bush' and made contact with a jeep containing a British Lieutenant and a corporal who advised us to return to camp and that they would come the next morning and bring some arms. They kept their promise and appeared with six rifles. This was sufficient as our guards were ready to surrender and no other military personnel were too close. All this occurred on 2nd May, 1945. We were not far from town and a group of five of us joined forces and walked. The name of the town eludes me.

    When we arrived in town we looked for accommodation and transport but we found only the former. A large building of apartments seemed to contain only women and when we explained our situation as being escaped prisoners of war, a number of the women appeared afraid of us, which was, of course, understandable. After some talk they seemed to accept our assurance that we meant them no harm. One of them, after discussion with her neighbours moved her things to the next apartment and lent us hers for the night. These women told us they were the widows of German soldiers killed in Stalingrad. I do not know if this was correct and some other explanations for a large number of women in a building circulated.

    However, they adapted to the situation and in the apartment we were actually cooked bacon and eggs. In return I gave the woman some tins of German rations that I had acquired. As we drifted into town we found that some British soldiers had set up a sort of canteen and served hot tea and white bread and butter. When I saw the white bread I thought it was sponge cake and ate half of it before I realised I could have put butter on it.

    Next morning we again looked for transport and despite several attempts could not find a vehicle good enough. Then I discovered an American major who seemed to be organising traffic movements and, at my request, told me to take a German motor truck parked on the road. It was, to my eyes, a massive vehicle needing five steps to the cab and room to sit five across. The largest vehicle I had ever driven was a three-ton Bedford. When I started driving out of town I discovered a lot of other ex-prisoners looking for a way out and before long the truck was full. I did not count the number of passengers but it seemed to be a full load. At this time we discovered we had been given a ration truck which was full of edibles. Our passengers were good providers and were divided into groups to look for liquor and fuel and they were quite successful.

    The road was crowded with traffic but we were impeded only at a few spots. At one of these an ambulance pulled alongside us and in starting collided with us and tore out the side of the ambulance. When the American officer, who was trying to keep traffic flowing, investigated the damage, he found that the only occupants were two high-ranking Germans trying to get away.

    We eventually arrived back at the Elbe River and had to say goodbye to our truck because the original bridges had been destroyed and were temporarily replaced by Bailey Bridges, which would not carry the load. We caught a ride on a jeep and it is still a mystery how the driver could have seen his way. We had men on the bonnet and others everywhere they could find a hand-hold.

    Across the river we found a reception area where we stayed the night and embarked on a British truck for the next stage westward. At the end of the journey we saw our accommodation - there were hundreds of little tents in a paddock. Our group now consisted of only Vic Oliver and myself and we decided that as we required medical attention for some obscure stomach affliction, we would take off on our own. This we did and rode on all sorts of military vehicles including tank carriers and ate at any army establishment we could find.

    The British soldiers were very hospitable and we were provided with food and beds. Although our clothes were disreputable we had no trouble in getting the army drivers to pick us up.

    We eventually arrived in Brussels in the late afternoon and were too late to get clothing or money which I desperately needed to go into town. We then noticed a Douglas DC3 aircraft with its engines running and ready for take-off. We both ran as fast as possible and were lucky enough to reach it in time. We thus became the first of our group to reach England.

    We arrived at Bishop Stortford (now renamed) and travelled to a RAF hanger where a reception was laid on and we were ushered from the bus to a de-lousing centre where we were pumped full of DDT. From this area we were met by a WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), dressed in her best, and ushered to a table. I found this a little daunting as I must have smelt of DDT and had on a pair of trousers which had a large tear in the bottom. This was, of course, the first female I had met for three years.

    We were later taken to our accommodation for the night and travelled to Brighton the next day arriving in time to be issued with some clothing but too late for money. This was, of course, VE Day and big celebrations were expected.

    As I left to go into town I met a New Zealand soldier who lent me £5, which we proceeded to spend. By this time we had been joined by some WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service) and one or two other servicemen. We danced in the streets and drank large quantities of beer and were all very happy. The next day when entering my hotel I was confronted by my cousin whom I had not seen for some years.

    We were placed on a diet guaranteed to add body weight which included a gallon (4.5 litres) of milk per day. After being on this diet for ten days I was weighed for the issue of an identity card and was amazed to find I was then 35 kilos - my normal weight was 60+kilos.

    Towards the end of August 1945 we embarked on the ship 'Orion' for our return home. This ship had been completely converted to a troop ship and, therefore, provided no storage for gear and had hammocks to sleep on. This was my first experience with hammocks and I was not impressed. We travelled by way of the Panama Canal. When in mid-Pacific, the Captain announced that he had heard that the Japanese had surrendered but as he had no official orders the ship would carry on under wartime rules, which included anti-aircraft practice with rockets.

    We landed in Sydney and an English officer who had been designated 'Officer Commanding Troops' issued an order that we would not be granted leave and must remain on the ship. It was later discovered that there was to be a reception at the local RAAF station, which we attended. The next day he tried to enforce his order but was unsuccessful and I met my brother for the first time in five years.

    The voyage to Fremantle was quite rough but was worth the worry when we arrived to see waiting on the wharf, the welcoming party consisting of my father, mother and my future wife, Phyllis, who was still waiting for me after my absence of five years. We married in 1946, had a daughter and a son, and 56 happy years together.

    My crew were:

    • F/S S.Willett DFM. pilot
    • F/S S.E.Packard
    • P/O N.Hannah
    • F/S H.S.McDonald
    • Flying Officer L.T. Manser, VC.
    • Sgt D.A.Williams RAAF
    • Sgt C.J.Scott (d. 30 April 1942)
    • Sgt C. Alf Miners. RAAF

    Alf Miners

    P/O James Snowsell 434 Sqd.

    P/O James Snowsell was my father. He was shot down on the Berlin ops on the 20th of January 1944 and was taken pow, along with P/O Wilf Kipp, the only two survivors, of the crash, Dad survived the war but had contracted TB along with ongoing bouts with asthma, I felt he never really got over the war. Died in 1957, at 42. Very unfortunately I never really got to know him.

    The crew were:

    • F/O C.S.Brest
    • Sgt J.R.Morgan
    • P/O W.M.Kipp
    • P/O J.Snowsell
    • Sgt L.H.Doe
    • P/O M.Gnius
    • Sgt H.B.Hill

    Kenneth Snowsell

    Alexander E Elsworthy 106 Squadron

    I am researching my great-uncle John Alfred Withington who died during the Second World War. He was a gunner in a Lancaster bomber with the 106 Squadron; all but one of the crew died on the 2nd of January 1944. The remaining crew member Alexander Elsworthy is shown to have been in prisoner of war camps Stalag4B and Stalag Luft3. My father was told that his uncle, John Withington, helped an injured crew member when their plane was hit. John helped open the other crew members' parachutes but his own then failed. The surviving crew member apparently came back to tell the tale and I am assuming this must be Alexander Elsworthy. Any details on Alexander would be very gratefully received. I know that his POW number was 269841, he lived in Chelsea and was born 1921.

    Holly Middleditch

    First Lieutenant Edward J McFarland

    My father, Edward J McFarland, flew on B-24H-15-FO Liberator serial # 42-52413 and was shot down and emergency landed near a village named Nagyberki in Hungary. All members were captured and transported to the penitentiary in Budapest. The officers, which should include my Dad, were imprisoned in Stalag-Luft 3 in Sagan. I would like to research this and get more info about my Dad's term as a POW.

    Jim McFarland

    Flt Sgt Ernest R Pearce

    I am trying to trace the wife or children of Flt Sgt. Ernest R Pearce who was a wireless operator air gunner.

    I knew him very well when he was in the R.A.F as he was my Mother's younger brother and spent all his leaves with us. He was my Hero!

    I have details of his last flight from Skipton on Swale when he was shot down and eventually taken P.O.W to Stalag Luft 3.

    I remember him getting married to Hilda (in fact have the certificate) but very little since. I feel there may be children out there who are my cousins or even Hilda. I do know Ernest died but not where or when. So anyone with ANY info at all I would be very grateful.

    Olive Molyneux

    Lt Cmdr H N C Hearn 825 Squadron

    My father was captured after running out of fuel over Norway, and interned at Stalag Luft 3. His name is Lt Cmdr. H.N.C Hearn, 825 Squadron; he sadly passed away just before his 89th birthday December 2004.

    I remember as a child Pete Butterworth coming round to see Dad with his new Austin Healey Sprite and occasionally we would also meet Rupert Davies (of Maigret fame).

    Andy Hearn

    First Lieutenant Edward J McFarland

    My Father, First Lieutenant Bombardier Edward J McFarland, flew on B-24H-15-FO Liberator, serial # 42-52413, and was shot down and emergency landed near a village named Nagyberki in Hungary. All members were captured and transported to the penitentary in Budapest. The officers, which should include my Dad, were imprisoned in Stalag-Luft 3 in Sagan. I would like to research this and get more info about my Dad's term as a POW.

    Jim McFarland

    Sergeant J. Bailey 149 Squadron

    I am looking for any relatives or friends who knew or served with the crew of Wellington bomber R3163 G for George of 149 Sqn:
  • Sgt. J Bailey 511887
  • Sgt. H G Barnes 652148
  • F/O H Burton
  • Sgt. A R Peacock 652031
  • P/O G M R Smith 42900
  • P/O D A McFarlane 79377 The plane was lost on the 5th of September 1940. I have some information including that they were POWs at Stalag 3 but would be very greatful if anyone has any other information to share.

  • Dan Gardner

    Pilot Officer Richard Barnes 50 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 30th May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes

    Pilot Officer Edward Barnes 78 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 30th May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes

    Pilot Officer Edward J Barnes 78 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 31st May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes

    Sargent Harry Tapper

    My father was Sgt. Harry Tapper, #13007264 US Army. He was captured in North Africa and taken to Stalag Luft 3, then he went to Stalag 13D. This is all of the information that I have been able to find to date, I would love to know more.

    Bill Tapper

    Alexander E Elsworthy 106 Squadron

    I am researching my great-uncle John Alfred Withington who died during the Second World War. He was a gunner in a Lancaster bomber with the 106 Squadron; all but one of the crew died on the 2nd of January 1944. The remaining crew member Alexander Elsworthy is shown to have been in prisoner of war camps Stalag4B and Stalag Luft3. My father was told that his uncle, John Withington, helped an injured crew member when their plane was hit. John helped open the other crew members' parachutes but his own then failed. The surviving crew member apparently came back to tell the tale and I am assuming this must be Alexander Elsworthy. Any details on Alexander would be very gratefully received. I know that his POW number was 269841, he lived in Chelsea and was born 1921.

    Holly Middleditch

    Pilot Officer Edward J Barnes 78 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 31st May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes

    Pilot Officer Edward Barnes 78 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 30th May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes

    Pilot Officer Richard Barnes 50 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 30th May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes

    Pte. Frederick Thomas Wren

    The date was May 25th 1940 and we were in France. Our guns were covering a canal five miles back, on a farm near the little town of Bbethune. We had just withdrawn from Tournay with the Germans hot on our heels, but we had time for breakfast that morning. Not eggs and bacon, but the next best thing, a pig had conveniently become a war casualty and roast pork was on the menu. I was about to tell Tich, our cook, that he had done a grand job, when my commanding officer asked me to take some of the pork down to our gun team in their nest in the wood, about five miles forward.

    I was detailed to go with a sergeant and as I had driven the guns into position the previous night, I knew the way. We took a 15 cwt truck and a can full to the brim with meat.

    The journey was a lonely one, all the French civilians had fled and the only living things we saw were a few stray cattle. Eventually we left the road and swung onto a cart track which led us to the wood and the guns. "Here's your breakfast" I told the gun team, "and make the most of it. God knows when you"ll get anymore." It was their first food for two days and they greeted us like a pack of wolves. There were howls of delight when they saw what we had brought. After a quick yarn about the battle, The sergeant and I turned the truck and set off back the way we had come. Then things started to warm up, mortar shells started to fall round us and shrapnel rattled against the side of the truck, it looked like shaping up for a full scale bombardment.

    Suddenly the truck slipped into a ditch. I looked at the sarge. We needed a vehicle jack to get us out of this fix and we did not have one our only hope was lay in a farmhouse nearby. We slithered to it along a ditch, hugging the mud with our bellies. Luckily the farmer was still there after a lot of gesticulating, and a little broken French, he got the message and produced a big hand operated jack. By this time, snipers were peppering the ditch and the sarge stayed behind to give me covering fire. Carrying the heavy jack was no joke, but I got it back to the truck in one piece and started to extricate it. Then along came a German spotter plane. The pilot saw me and let go with his machine gun. all I could do was to lie low, curse the pilot and try to manoeuvre the jack into place. Every time he showed himself he had a go at me. I knew he had to run out of ammunition and he did. The cat and mouse game was over, but my troubles weren't

    I raised my head for a look around and saw a figure waving in the shadows of the wood. The gun team, I reckoned,wanted me back. As I jumped up and dashed the last 20 yards a Ggerman Tommy-gunner appeared and let rip. He missed, but as the sound of shots rang in my ears, I crashed face-down in the ditch. As the muddy water wrapped itself round me, I wondered how much was left of me. Then a knee landed in the small of my back and shock turned to horror. Germans were crawling across the ditch over me, one by one thinking that I was a corpse and a convenient stepping stone and though I didn't know it at the time, an officer in my company had witnessed my "death" and reported it to the war office. My wife received the formal notification of my death, killed in action from the war office and a letter of sympathy from Buckingham Palace, so she claimed my life insurance and resigned herself to planning a new lonely life. But i wasnt dead.

    The German troops pressed me painfully into the mud as they advanced across the ditch, their boots stirring up the mud round my ears. To avoid suffocation, I raised my head. "Raus schweinhund" said a voice, 'get up you pigdog'. I did so and wondered if the Germans were as surprised as I was that I could do so. They kicked me down again, then they prodded me into the wood where one of my mates, a lance corporal, lay wounded in the shoulder. I stood there looking at him and wondered what I could do to help him. One of the Germans pulled the pin out of a grenade and tossed it at me, I jumped aside and it exploded noisily but harmlessly. My captors then concentrated on the Lance Corporal, ordering him to get up he looked at me with a mixture of fear and hopelessness, "if I get up" he said "they will kill me". They didn't wait. Even as he said it, a soldier pushed me aside and opened fire. I wondered why I had been saved, as I was led to join the surviving gunners.

    There were two of them they told me what had happened, the lance corporal had pulled a grenade at the time of the German attack held it almost until the point of the explosion and hurled it at the commander of the enemy, the death of the lance corporal had been brutal revenge. The Germans ordered me to take the dead officers personal effects. I was marched off to five years as a prisoner of war.

    A few months later the my wife was told that my name had appeared on the latest list of war prisoners even though she had her doubts, till she received the first letter from me. I went the rounds of the POW camps including Stalag Luft 111.

    Pamela West

    Sergeant Everett Wayne Stanley 613th Bomb Squadron 401st Bomb Group

    My grandfather was the ball turret gunner on a B-17G. On April 29, 1944, his aircraft was shot down over Holland after bombing the railway yards in Berlin. All of the crew made it safely out of the aircraft. All of the crew were captured by German forces with the exception of one man. This man, Sgt. Watkins, was able to evade capture with the help of members of the Dutch Resistance and made it back to England. The rest of the crew were taken to Dulag Luft for interrogation. All of the enlisted crew members were sent to Stalag Luft 4. My grandfather however was sent to Stalag Luft 3 with all of the officers. They arrived a little more than a month after "The Great Escape". All of the crew members survived thier ordeal in the german prison camps and were later reunited after they were liberated by Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army. Sadly, my grandfather passed away from cancer. He never spoke of his experiences during the war. After much research, I now understand why. God bless all that served and let us never forget thier sacrifice.

    Wayne Roberts

    F/O John Dalton Harvie 433 Squadron

    Shot down by Germans over occupied France, I was the only member of my 7 man Bomber Command crew to survive the crash. After hiding at a French farmhouse for several days, I started back to England with the help of the French resistance, but that ended abruptly when a traitor handed me over to the Gestapo.

    I spent a month in solitary confinement in Fresnes prison in Paris and then was transported by boxcar to Buchenwald. Later I was transferred to Stalag Luft III POW camp. With the Russian advance we had to undertake a forced march to Bremen and then to Lubeck near the Danish border, where I was finally liberated.

    John Harvie

    Sub Lt. William Walter Parsons Observer 827 Albacore Squadron

    Will Parsons was my grandfather, he used to tell me tales of what he did in WWII - It was only when I saw his photo in a book 'From Coastal Command to Captivity' in Oflag XXIB with the author Jim Hunter, that I thought to research a bit more and come across this website. In the book he is in picture 11, 2nd right but he is not in picture 12, even though it has his name listed). So I thought I'd share some of his memories with you;

    Will Parsons was shot down in the Kirkenes raid, during torpedo attack on ships anchored in Boksfjord on the 30th July 1941, they got caught up in flak from the ships, flak from the land and shot at by German fighters and eventually hit so badly that they had to ditch in the Fjords. Will told the pilot to make sure he hit the sea tail first, as he knew that if he hit nose first they'd flip over, it worked and they all got out safely.

    They were picked up by a Norwegian fishing boat and were nearly shot as spies when the Germans boarded, but the Norwegian captain pointed to their uniforms hanging up to dry and saved their life! My grandfather corresponded with this chap for years after the war.

    I'm aware that he ended up in various camps, including Oflag XIB and Stalag Luft III East, he told me that he was one of the PT fellows who got people to jump over the wooden horse, he dug tunnels and also made compasses with the magnet in the base of his razor, which he had won in a swimming competition

    One story he told me was how Douglas Bader used to throw snow balls at the German's in the middle of the parade ground, but they couldn't touch him as he was too much of a prized asset, however the German's took reprisals on the other POW's, Bader wasn't a popular figure...

    Finally he mentioned about the long forced march from Sagan, through that harsh winter, where he said he'd pushed a wheel barrow for hundreds of miles. He had a ring that he always wore which became bent due to the wheel barrow and kept it ever since, until it was stolen by burglars a few years back.

    Will Parsons became a Teacher after the war and died in 2002 aged 83 I would be interested in hearing from anyone who knew Will Parsons from his Squadron or POW camps. I am trying to find out which other camps he was held in.

    Paul Hewitt

    Sgt. John Anthony " " Oldfield 76 Squadron (d. )

    On the evening of June 1,1942 a Halifax II, serial number W1064 Code MP—J from 76 Squadron took off from RAF Middleton St. George at 2306 on a bombing Ops to Essan. On its homebound journey the Halifax II's starboard engine began to seize. The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter and severely damaged, the tail section was described later as “virtually exploding”.

    The pilot of the night fighter was Lt. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer. Schnaufer would become the most decorated night fighter from W.W. II with 121 acknowledged victories. And this Halifax, according to the log, was the first bomber he shot down. The attack was certainly successful from his perspective and the Halifax bomber crashed at 0145 in the area of Bossutand Grez-Doiceau (Brabant) 15 km south of Leuven Belgium.

    Two members of the six man crew were reported killed in action: Sergeant (Pilot) Thomas Robert Augustus West and Sergeant (Air Gnr.) John Robert Thompson. Four survived and landed by parachute. Two members of the crew, Sergeant W. J. Norfolk and Sergeant P. Wright, managed to evade capture and were eventually returned to the UK.

    The other two members of the crew, PO Walter B Mulligan RNZA and W/O John Oldfield, were taken Prisoner of War. Mulligan, POW No 292 was transported to Stalag Luft 3 . Oldfield, POW No 518, like Mulligan, was first taken to the interrogation centre, Dulag Luft, then on to Stalag Luft 3. Oldfield was later moved to Stalag 357 from which he joined The March in 1945. Mulligan, due to his poor health, was repatriated to England in 1944 from Luft 3 as part of a prisoner exchange.

    The following is an account taken from my father's diary and refers to how Christmas Day was spent in Camp 357 in 1944.

    Christmas Day 1944:

    After a month of skimping and scraping and almost literally starving, Christmas Day arrived. A fortunate last-minute issue of coal from the detaining powers enabled us to cook our meals for the day and a very pleasant day we had. The following is an account of our (that is Steve, Oggie, Peter and my day day.

    Eight-thirty in the morning double-strength German coffee arrived from the cookhouse and Steve, noble fellow, arose and we had a good brew and two slices of bread and jam in bed. A cigarette and then a wash and shave prior to our early morning parade. It was bitterly cold out there on parade but a wintry sun was half smiling on us. The thought of a fire in the barrack to go back to cheered us somewhat and on dismissal we dashed back to prepare our Christmas Breakfast.

    Oggie and Steve were soon at work on the stove and by ten fifteen we sat down to porridge, tea and an oat cake; a good grounding for our day’s feed.

    Pots and tins to be washed, Peter and I soon had these done, and away we went on a few brisk circuits of the campground. Hands and feet were soon warm and our bodies glowed with the exercise.

    After an hour walking it was “skilly” time and we returned to the room to eat our German soup which for once was really good. The soup was followed by a treacle tart made by Steve, our cook, and was enjoyable. The Christmas Spirit began to enter our souls. Again we perambulated, this time to call on friends. Everyone was happy and in every room a good fire was blazing and the aroma of cooking was in the air. On a quarter parcel issue the show our boys have made has been truly magnificent.

    Once more we retired to our room, this time to partake of a mid-afternoon brew, a rare luxury, for this time it was accompanied by an oat cake. The pots washed, we commenced preparations for our Christmas Dinner.

    Oggie now became Maitre du Table. Tins were opened and our Christmas Pud (made from crusts of black bread) was put on the stove to warm. All is scurry and bustle and within an hour our meal was ready to be served. After months of “belting”, what a meal: four ounces of bacon, two and half of Spam, a little scrambled egg, potatoes and swedes . . . all delicious and filling.

    Then came the pud, a goodly portion each, rather burnt but do we care? No sir! Oggie has made us a little custard and with our spoons, away we go. Now we are really full, satisfied and contented and warm. If only we were home every meal would be like this one. We relax and smoke a cigarette. We are all drowsy and an hour soon passes. Soon we are again washing cups and plates and my duties commence. I am to prepare the table for our little gathering at seven thirty.

    I took real care in the layout but at last it was done. A white table cloth, a Christmas Tree and a cake with a frill (made from toilet paper) around it. There was a menu card for each man and the effect was great.

    At seven thirty we cut our cake (this of Steve’s making) and really delightful it was. We couldn’t eat it all at so something was saved for later. Then another cigarette and a natter about old times finishing at nine when, in coffee, we toasted Absent Friends. A walk around the compound and then to bed after a quiet but warm and un-hungry Christmas Day.

    Michael Oldfield

    2nd Lt. Joe Leroy Ogan 741st Bomb Squadron 455th Bomb Group

    I was a B-24 pilot flying combat missions out of Cerignola, Italy with the. On 30 May 1944, I flew a mission to Wells, Austria where I was knocked down. The wing of my airplane was blown off between the 1st and 2nd engines. I was taken prisoner and transferred to the interrogation center at Frankfurt.

    Later, I was transferred to Stalag Luft 3. On 27 January, as the Russians were advancing, I was marched out of there in the deep snow and several days later was sent to Muremburg. After some time, I was marched out of there toward Moosburg. I was liberated by Patton's 3rd Army.

    Joe L. Ogan

    Sgt. Roger "Pluto" Peacock 40 Sqd. (d. )

    Roger Peacock was born in Liverpool on January 1, 1920. He joined the RAF in 1937 and was trained to be a wireless operator and a gunner on a Blenheim Bomber. His plane was shot down on July 26th, 1940 during an air raid near Wilhelmshaven in north-west Germany. He was taken prisoner and spent five years in German POW camps:Oberursel-Barth-Sagan-Heydekrug-Fallingbostel. He took part in the "Long March" before returning to Britain after liberation.

    After two years in hospital he became a teacher. After his retirement he adopted the pen name "Richard Passmore" and wrote three autobiographical works published by Thomas Harmsworth Publishing London: "Blenheim Boy"(1981), "Moving Tent" about his time as a POW(1982)and "Thursday is Missing" about his childhood and youth in Liverpool(1984). He died in 1996.

    After being discharged from hospital in 1947 he returned to Germany on a bicycle tour. During his stay at the youth hostel here in Osnabrueck he met a young man living in the neighbourhood, who invited him to get to know his family. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

    Gerhard Meyer-Ohle

    Flt. Sgt. John "Panda" Peyton-Lander 101 Squadron

    My uncle, Jack Peyton-Lander (my father's brother) was on board 101 Squadron Lancaster LM493 which took off from Ludford Magna at 21.40hrs on the evening of 27/28th April 44 for operations to Friedrichshafen. They were shot down by a nightfighter and crashed at Oberwinden 3km SW of Elzach. Of the eight men on board five were taken pow, the other three died;
    • F/Lt B.N. Dickinson (pow)
    • Sgt L. Houlden (pow)
    • F/O K.S. Beardsall (pow)
    • F/O R.L. French (pow)
    • F/Sgt J.E. Peyton-Lander (pow)
    • F/Sgt G.E.H. Schultz, RCAF (killed)
    • F/O R.S. Campsall, RCAF (killed)
    • Sgt J.V. Bramhall (killed)
    Jack was taken to Stalag Luft III, Sagan, pow number 5158. If anyone knew him, or better still have him on a picture, I would love to hear from you.

    Nigel Peyton-Lander

    W/O John Glover Moriarty 10 OTU (d. )

    My Father was shot down in a Whitley V on 26 June 1942 in the Third Thousand Bomber raid over Bremen by Obit Helment Lent from unit 4/NJG2 in a Messerscmit BF 110 R4+AC. The crew included Pilot Sgt Norman R Parons, Sgt George Ewen (Killed in Action), F/O Reginaif van Toen and F/Sgt G.McB. Harris. As far as I am aware he was taken prisoner and sent first to Stalag Luft 3, then 6 and finally to 357 at Fallinbostal, liberated in April 1945. I would be interested to hear from any one who knew my father during his POW years. My mother recalls stories of him helping with escape operations but is unclear as to whether these included working on the Great Escape or the Wooden Horse.

    Simon Moriarty

    P/O Tadec Felc 317 Sqd

    My father Robert Wells RAF pilot on c47 dakotas in India 1944/45 on 194 sqd was married in 1947 to Jean Ryson of Carlisle Cumberland she had a best friend Maggie who married a Polish Spitfire pilot and as a small boy remember being told he was shot down over France approx 1943 and was sent to StalagLuft III and was involved in tunnel digging and when names were put in a hat to find who was going out his name was not picked out and he cried on his bunk all night. This must have been awful and he also was forced to march out hundreds of miles as the Allies advanced. My parents are gone now, as is Maggie and I was told T.Felc died from cancer approx 1960. I know they had a daughter Joanna and a son name unknown. Joanna still lives in Carlisle but I have no other info. I was fascinated as a boy of my Dads stories of this Polish pilot and all of the brave Polish Pilots. I would like to know if anyone has any info about him.

    Bob Wells

    2nd Lt. Arnold Paul "A.P." Martin 548th Squadron 385th Bomb Group

    My father was the co-pilot of B17 'Miss NonaLee II' which developed engine problems on the October 9th 1943 mission to bomb the Marianburg factory. The crew bailed out and the pilot ditched the plane in occupied Denmark. The rest of the crew, including my father, were captured and spent 15 months in Stalag Luft III and then were forced to march to Stalag 7A (Moosburg) in January 1945 where he was imprisoned until liberated on April 29th 1945.
    Patricia Martin

    W/O Harry Barber 37 Squadron

    I am still trying to find out more about what happened to my grandad, Harry Barber but I do know that he joined the RAF as a brat (underage at 15), and that he flew Wellingtons as a wireless operator with 37 Squadron.

    He was shot down over Tunisia mid-43 and was captured with the four other survivors of his crew after nine days (surviving on lizards and suffering a broken arm). We know that the Germans who found him and his crew were inclined to shoot them, but their senior officer saw how young they all were (around 19) and took them prisoner and went by the rules.

    They were taken to Stalag Luft III, and a bit later split up, with two sent to other camps while my grandad and his crew member Sqdn Ldr Bob Nelson - who is famed for inventing the ventilation system of the escape tunnels for the great escape - remained at Stalag Luft III.

    My grandfather was not part of the escape, as only a few days before had tried to make a break for it and had been caught. He spent his 21st birthday in solitary, with the German guard taking pity and giving him an extra slice of bread. If he hadn't been in solitary due to his impatience, he would have been one of the men most likely shot after the escape. After the war, he went on to become a commercial airline pilot with a few different airlines. He died before I was born and so I never got to hear any of his stories first hand. If anyone knows anything else about my grandfather, please get in touch via the website if possible, as I would love to find out more about his time in the RAF.

    A Barber

    Sgt. Ronald Arnold 12 Sqd

    My Grandfarher Ronald Arnold served with the RAF in 12 Squadron, flying in a Wellington as rear gunner. He was shot down and was held in Stalag Luft III between 22nd of July 1943 and 27th of January 1945

    Chris Roberts

    Harold Alfred Findlater 429 Sqd

    My Father, Harold Alfred Findlater, was interred at Stalag Luft 111 after being shot down over Dusseldorf on the 23rd of April 1944.

    He was in the RCAF and came from Vancouver BC. The crew were

    • F/O E.L.Howland USAAF,
    • WO2 D.S.Brillinger RCAF,
    • Sgt E.A.Goss,
    • WO2 H.A.Findlater RCAF,
    • F/S H.W.Doiron RCAF,
    • Sgt R.Chamberlain RCAF,
    • Sgt Y.O.Young RCAF,
    • Sgt W.R.Adlard RCAF.
    My son & I are trying to research Dad’s war history and I have found a photo of marked ‘British Columbians - taken 20 May 1944 at Stalag Luft 111, Sagan, Germany’. My Father is on this photo but I don’t recognise any of the other 28 POW’s that are also on the picture.

    Sheryl Crossland

    Sgt. Sydney James Hitchings 49 Squadron

    My father Sgt Sidney Hitchings was POW number 276 in Stalag Luft 1

    WR Chorley’s RAF Bomber Command Losses of Second World War (vol 1939 – 40) states: Night of 4/5 Set 1940 49 Squadron Hampden mk 1 P 1347 EA-D Op: Stettin

    • Pilot F/O LM Hodges POW escape report WO 208/3304 S/PG 345
    • Observer Sgt SJ Hitchings POW 276
    • WOp/AG Sgt JH Wyatt POW escape report WO 208/3303 S/PG 280
    • Wop/AG Sgt LC Turnbull POW 285

    t/o Scampton. Strayed off course after being fired on by light flak from an airfield in Brittany, the Hampden was force landed in a field near St Brieuc. (Hodges and Wyatt escaped and arrived home via Gibraltar on 31 July 1941. Hodges rose in rank to become Air Chief Marshall Sir Lewis Hodges and was president of the RAF Escaping Society).

    My father was one of the early pows in Stalag Luft 1 and the accompanying photos are from there. He was moved to several other camps including Stalag Lufts 3 and 4 and eventually after the forced marches of winter 1944 arrived at Camp 357 from which he was repatriated.

    A group photo in front of what appears to be stage set. The reverse shows that it was posted from Stalag Luft 1 and I think the postmark is 1942-7-18. S.J.Hitchings is second from left front row

    A propaganda “Christmas Spread” photo but my father told me all of the items were made of paper! SJH 3rd from right. 4th from left (with beard) is Sgt JC Shaw

    Sgt JC Shaw (middle) and SJH back right. Others unknown. Sgt Shaw was shot while attempting to escape on the night of 2/3 Jan 42 (see Footprints in the Sands of Time, Clutton-Brock. p46.)

    Sgt LC Turnbull

    Sgt LC Turnbull (front) and SJH

    6. S.J.Hitchings back left, others unknown.

    In 2015 I visited Pordic and met members of the Association Bretagne de Sovenir Arien ( who took me to the site of the crash. One of the old men was a boy of seven at the time and he saw the two parachutes of my father and Sgt Turnbull, both of whom were subsequently captured.

    Photos of Hampden P1347 in which my father, Sgt SJ Hitchings, was observer on the raid to Stettin on the night of 4th Sept 1949, after it crash landed in a field near Pordic, Brittany, were sent to me by Rick of to whom I am grateful.

    Robert Hitchings

    P/O Thomas Jackson 419 Sqd.

    My great uncle Tom was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force and flew a Halifax bomber that was shot down around April 21, 1943. He was sent to Stalag Luft 3 where he played a role in the Great Escape. I am looking for any further information anyone can give me in regards to his military history.

    Editors Note: Tom Jackson was the pilot of Halifax JB912 VR-B with 419 Squadron flying from Middleton St George. They took off at 21:14 on the 20th of April 1943 and were shot down from 16,000 feet by a night-fighter, crashing an estimated 47 km NW of Stettin.

    The crew were:

    • P/O T.E.Jackson
    • Sgt J.F.Westerman
    • Sgt C.J.Sebastian
    • F/S J.M.Carlton
    • P/O J.R.Fry
    • Sgt T.M.Crandell
    • F/S D.A.Watkins DFM
    • Sgt E.Jury

    Flight Sgt Watkins was killed and the others were all held as Prisoners of War.

    Evelyn Geringswald

    2nd Lt. Joseph Charles Sanford 782 Bomb Sq, 465 Bomb Group

    I went into Federal Service From 44 Div NG. Sept 16 1940. I then entered USAAF in 1943 a Member of Class 43 10 Bombardier training at Childress Texas. I trained to drop "The Bomb" at Wendover Field Utah as a member of Col Keese' Provisional Group. But The Bomb was not ready so I joined 456th Bomb Group at McCook, Nebraska and flew to Africa, and later on to Italy. I then flew 31 missions bombing oil refineries. I was shot down in July 1944 and taken to POW North Compound at Stalagluft III, then to Nuremberg and then Mooseburg. I was Liberated by General Patton.

    Joseph Charles Sanford

    F/Lt. Charles Dean McCloskey

    F/Lt. Charley McCloskey was my uncle, he married my mother's sister, Barbara Ann West, immediately after the war. We don't know much about his time at Stalag Luft 3 other than hearing that he was a "scavenger" for the tunnel construction. He wasn't one of those who escaped but was forced to watch as his 50 mates were murdered after the capture. We believe he spent a great deal of time in solitary confinement and was force-marched, we believe, to Luft 4 prior to liberation. His prisoner number was 1083 and while he sent many letters home to his fiancee and my grandmother, Mrs. West, the attached card is the only remaining one I could locate. If anyone knew of him or of his experience we would be greatful to hear about it.

    P B Moore

    2nd Lt. Donald Emmett Casey DFC 370th Bomb Group

    My name is Don Casey of Chicago, IL. I was in Stalag Luft III after being shot down 5/18/44 over Hamburg, Germany while flying Deputy Lead Navigator for the 379th Bomb Group out of Kimbolton, England. We lost 4 of our 9 man crew that day. Five survived as POW's. Pilot Steve King and I were taken to SL3 and were held in the South Compound along with 2,000 flying officer prisoners of the USAAF. There were five compounds. The Great Escape compound was also called North Camp. Conditions were pretty good that summer. We had food, books, musical instruments and room for exercise. On January 27th 1945 we were evacuated on foot in a 15 degree below zero blizzard to the sound of the Russian guns approaching the camp from about 30 miles. For a while we were hopeful the Russian Army would liberate us but to no avail.

    I have written a book about my experiences entitled: To Fight For My Country, Sir. It is a paper back edition of just less than 300 pages with pictures taken throughout my training, in combat and at SL3 inside the camp.

    We were liberated on 4/29/45 at STALAG VII-A in Moosburg (Bavaria) Germany by Gen. Patton's 14th Armored Division of his 3rd Army and George visited us there on 5/2/45, in person. Two other SL3 POW's surviving from South Camp are Col. Steve King, USAF, Ret. and Valleau Wilkie of Fort Worth Texas.

    Don Casey

    Thomas "Mac" Mcknight Royal Army Medical Corps

    I know my father Thomas Mcknight was taken prisoner at Dunkirk.I believe that because he was a medical orderley he was sent to Stalag Luft III to work in the camp medical centre. If anybody has seen his name or photograph anywhere in their relatives archives could you please post it on this site. Or if there are any surviving members of the camp who may have known my Dad could you please post the information on this site.

    Paul Mcknight

    Lt. Victor Mundell 1 Squadron

    My father-in-law, Victor Mundell, was a Spitfire pilot and was shot down in Tripolitania on the 16th of April 1943. Landing in a cactus field where he was captured by local Arabs, who later sold him to the Germans for a bag of flour. He was taken to Stalag Luft 3 and was a penguin during the building of the tunnels for the Great Escape, but did not make the list for escape. We don't know which compound he was in or what happened in the last months of the war but he arrived in England on the 9/5/1945.

    We would be interested to hear from anyone else who had relatives in the SAAF in Stalag Luft 3

    Chris Mundell

    Theodore Andrew Brown 485th Bomb Group

    The recent Swampscott Historical Society Antiques Appraisals Night was successful. It was fun to see nearly 100 people learn the value of their antiques and collectibles. I brought ceramic Stengal birds given to me years ago. They were vintage 1940s, valued at about $100. Many paintings brought in for appraising were in the $300 to $400 range. But, to me, the most exciting item was a kerchief-sized heavy silk fabric with a detailed map of Germany and Belgium on one side and Germany and France on the other side. Teresa Vatcher asked everyone in the hall if they knew what the maps were from. Two people in the hall recognized the maps. These detailed maps were issued to airmen flying over hostile territory during World War II and were included in their survival kits. Of 35,000 servicemen who found their way home from enemy lands, more than half used these valuable maps. They could be folded up small and hidden if the owners were captured. They could be sewn into their clothes, or hidden in a hollow shoe heel and they didn't crackle like paper or disintegrate when wet. Soldiers in cold areas used the silk maps for warmth, in hot areas men used the maps to shield them from bugs.

    Teresa, who brought the silk map in, said she used the silk maps as a kerchief and treasured it because it belonged to her brother, John Pagnotta, World War II top gunner on an 8th Air Force B-24 bomber. John told her his gun position had no heat, no bathroom, no windshield wipers. When she left to go home, without bringing her silk map to be appraised, I stopped her and said, “Aren't you going to even show your map to the appraiser?” She said, "Do you want to take it up?" I said, enthusiastically, "Yes." So she left the map with me and as she went out the door she said, "Give it to my sister to bring home." I said I’d certainly return it to Catherine Valeriani after it was appraised. I wrote a short blurb about the silk map belonging to John Pagnotta on a scrap of paper and put it with the silk map to give the appraiser a clue. (John Pagnotta was in the 453rd Bomb Group and Jimmy Stewart, the movie actor, was his commanding officer.) The appraiser was intrigued. She'd never seen a silk map before in her many years in the field. She couldn't put a value on it, for she had no idea how many were made, but she was aware of its sentimental value to the Pagnotta family. Curious, I went online the next day and typed in “silk maps WWII” on a search line. I got back the history of silk maps. I printed it out and phoned Terry and read it to her. I told her she was wearing a $300 kerchief. I’d read about old silk maps selling on eBay for $300+. Terry said I’d made her day. Perhaps she'll give it to a museum someday.

    Then I called my former neighbor, Mary Brown, because her husband, Ted Brown, was a waist gunner on a B-24, and did bombing raids over Germany. I wanted to ask her if he had a silk map. Mary said, “He’d never mentioned a silk map, but he did have a thumb-nail sized compass.” She began to tell me the story of his last flight over Germany. I asked her if I could write it down for her children. She agreed and what follows here is the story she told me:

    The bomber was a B-24 and Col. “Hap” Arnold was the first commander of the 485th Bomb Group, stationed in Venosa, Italy. Their mission was to bomb the synthetic oil plants in eastern Germany. After a certain number of missions, the exhausted plane crews were given rest and recreation time. The men were sent to the Isle of Capri for a rest before the next group of bombing missions.

    The lead bomber of a hundred B-24s, where Staff Sgt. Ted Brown was a waist gunner, was on the way home, August 1944, from a bombing run to the Ploesti Oil Fields. They were about 100 miles from Berlin. They were under heavy ack-ack fire and the plane was hit. It was on fire and the crew had to bail out. Ted Brown said the crew never had any training in parachute jumping, or even any last-minute instruction. Over enemy territory, with the bomber on fire, they had to get out of the plane fast. The man directly in front of Ted got to the escape door and froze. He could not move. He could not force himself to jump out into the unknown through the ack-ack fire.

    Ted quickly booted the terrified man out the door and Ted jumped out right behind him. (Later, the man thanked Ted for booting him out the door, saving his life.) The whole crew parachuted down into Germany. On his way down, Ted was wounded in his elbow by the ack-ack fire and his groin was cut by a twisted strap on his parachute when he landed in a tree. Ted cut himself free and fell to the ground. He was all alone, no other parachutist in sight.

    He ran away from his parachute as fast as he could, and hid, for the Germans would soon find the parachute. He buried his pistol, knowing he’d be shot if he was found with a gun. He hid for five days, travelling by night, hiding by day, eating the watercress, Brussels sprouts, and Swiss chard he found growing in the fields. He recognized the plants as edible because he’d grown up on a farm in Vermont. He used the tiny compass in his survival kit, hoping to find friendly forces, and he hid and slept during the day.

    One day he was hiding in a cornfield, and woke to find a group of Polish men, a forced work crew, coming through the field. The men saw the airman on the ground, but never let their German guards know he was there. As they walked past him some men dropped bread for him without looking down so the Germans never knew an American airman was hiding in the cornfield.

    The fifth day he was asleep in a field and woke up to find a German policeman with his spike- topped helmet, holding a gun on him. He was brought to a nearby farmhouse, and taken to the cellar where a German officer, who spoke excellent English, interrogated him. When Ted gave only his name, rank and serial number, as required by the Geneva Convention, and would say no more, the German officer smashed him across the face with his rifle butt. Eventually the entire crew of the bomber was captured and imprisoned.

    Mary Brown, back at home, received news Ted was missing in action. She did not know for three months if her husband was dead or alive. She only knew his plane was shot down on the way home from a bombing raid. Mary was working at Cushman’s Bakery in Lynn and her co-workers were amazed at her belief that Ted was alive. She felt she’d know if he’d been killed.

    Lt. Cummings, who’d trained with Ted, wrote a letter to Mary. As an officer, Cummings censored his own letters and he was able to tell her, “Mary, I haven’t seen Ted for a while, but I know he is all right.” She was grateful to hear the news. Ted was alive! This was before the Air Force informed her he was in a prisoner of war camp. Ted spent 10 months as a prisoner of war in Germany. Once Mary knew he was alive, and in a POW camp in Germany, she sent him many letters and packages of food. POW mail went through neutral Switzerland. He only received one of her letters and none of the food packages.

    Living conditions were harsh in the POW camp, with little food. In cold weather, the men slept head to toe, side by side, and kept their feet warm under each other’s arms. One of the prison camp guard dogs slept at night right under their compound. The men, desperate for food, got a floorboard loose, killed and ate the dog.

    One day Mary Brown was invited to Boston and with a troop of soldiers standing at attention, she was presented with Ted Brown’s medals. Ted had been awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross, with oak leaf clusters. The medals he’d been awarded were pinned on Mary.

    As the Allied forces pushed into Germany, the English from one side, the Americans from another and the Russians from a third side, the thousands of men in POW camps were moved from camp to camp, away from the advancing armies. Ted was forced into a boxcar with so many others there was only standing room and no latrine. Ted remembered the stench in the boxcar was awful. The men standing in these boxcars moving from camp to camp would be shunted to a siding for frightening hours when the Allies were bombing. As they travelled through little towns they were warned to make no sound lest they be shot. At that time there were roving bands of the retreating German army and SS troops.

    On one move from a POW camp, the men went on a forced march of 100 miles, in the winter, which took 12 days, and if you didn’t keep up, you’d be shot. Their German guards were older men who didn’t really want to shoot anyone. The prisoners would get on each side of a faltering comrade and almost carry him along. They helped each other. They travelled on back roads to avoid the retreating German soldiers and SS troopers.

    Ted Brown ended up in Stalag Luft III located in Sagan, near the Baltic Sea, about 100 miles southeast of Berlin. Stalag Luft III was run by the German Air Force. One day in April 1945, the prisoners woke to find all the German guards were gone. Later that day, the Russians liberated the POW camp. Ted commented, “The Russians were a wild bunch.” During the war the Germans had raped Russian women and the Russians couldn’t wait to catch and kill as many Germans as possible.

    When the Russians saw the emaciated condition of the men in the prison camp, they went out into the countryside and rounded up livestock. They put on a giant barbecue for the prisoners. The Russians even supplied vodka for the celebration, which they insisted everyone should drink. With his shrunken stomach, Ted could not eat much and he only put his lips to the vodka bottle, not daring to drink a drop. The men who ate and drank too much were soon very sick.

    The former prisoners of war were flown out of Germany in B-17s to France, where they lived in tents and were put on a liquid diet for several weeks before they were able to tolerate solid food. The men were told they might never be able to have children as they had been so starved. Mary said, "Our three children are proof of how wrong the doctors were about that." The men waited their turn to get on a Liberty ship and head home.

    Ted arrived back in New York in late May 1945. He called Mary and said he wanted to see her alone for a couple of days, then after a couple days, he’d be ready to visit with the rest of his family. So Mary rented a room at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem for two days and told no one (except his brother Fred) where they were staying. When Ted arrived, Mary hardly recognized him, he was so thin. Mary told Ted to sit down, as she had a surprise for him. She told him about her going to Boston and being awarded his medals. She gave him his medals. He was flabbergasted for Ted was a modest man. He didn’t think what he’d done was so special. But it certainly was. The second day at the Hawthorne Hotel, Ted’s brother Fred, with whom he was very close, couldn’t wait any longer, and he came to Salem to see Ted. Ted was finally home.

    Betty Dean Holmes typed up this story “from Mary Brown’s wonderful memory.” Copyright 2007 The Swampscott Reporter. Some rights reserved. Mary and Ted Brown were my neighbors for many years.

    Betty Dean Holmes

    Flt.Sgt. Thomas Henry Gladders 207 Squadron

    Tommy Gladders was shot down over Berlin on 24/12/43 and was sent to Stalag Luft 3. He sent a postcard home dated 26.04.44 saying 'there has been plenty of entertainment to keep us going (POW talent is pretty good), this was written just after the famous 'Great Escape'

    Sgt Donald Thomsett RAF Snaith 51 Sqn

    Donald Thomsett was my Grandad. He flew as an RAF gunner during the whole of the war, moving from varying heavy bombers including the Wellington but settled for the majority of the war as a rear gunner in Halifax bombers based at RAF Snaith with 51 Sqn. My Grandad lasted until January of 1945 before being shot down during a night raid on Hannover. His story was one he hardly ever spoke of and he never really got over his experiences til the day he died. Towards the end of his life he began to talk more and more about the war, eventually dying of cancer in 2000. Donald was on a night bombing mission over Hannover which took place on the night of the 5th of January 1945. He remembered sitting in the rear turret as usual when out of the darkness, and in heavy flak, he saw a German fighter plane approach from the rear and slightly above his plane. He managed to fire on it and thought he had shot it down as it turned away very quickly and looked to be out of control.

    Next, another fighter appeared to the rear and slightly below the plane. Don moved the guns downwards and saw the pilots face illuminated by the lights on his German instrument panel. The guns wouldn't reach to a position to fire on the fighter plane. As the Halifax was being engaged, the pilot had gone into a wide sweeping manouvre to make attack from the fighter more difficult - a sort of large u shape, rolling the controls right, then left. Don watched as the German fighter continued to match the Halifax and flew underneath it. He heard a loud explosion and felt the plane shudder, then it changed direction steeply heading towards the ground.

    My Grandad said he was supposed to keep his parachute in the turret with him but always slung it just into the bulk inside the fusilage. The angle of the plane meant he thought it would have slid down the length of the plane out of his reach, but it had snagged on something and he put his hand straight on it. Realising that the plane was going to crash he pressed for the turret to turn to bail out but found the hydraulics had failed (probably something to do with the explosion he thought?) so had to turn it by hand until he could get out.

    He landed on the roof of a house and fell into the garden, badly spraining his ankle. There was snow everywhere and it was freezing. Local residents came out and, possibly scared, started to beat him with whatever they could get their hands on - brooms, sticks, feet - until some soldiers arrived and took him to a local police station, then marched him to Dulag.

    They had removed his flying boots and made him limp in the snow with his damaged ankle. My Grandad said he remembered this taking a couple of days, but thinks there was some transport at some point too. Along the route to Dulag he said he saw the blodies of allied airmen hung on lamposts, killed by the local populace, or German soldiers. At Dulag interrogation centre he was hung up by his hands and all his possessions taken from him. He was tortured with a knife being run up and down his back - he had scars on his back that I remember seeing, long lines. - and was kept in solitary for a couple of weeks. By that time he had frostbite on his feet and the Germans repeatedly made the room very hot, then cold in an attempt to extract information from him. He was also put into a room with another British airman to live for a couple of days. This airman then told the Germans all the things that my Grandad hadn't - like where he lived, the name of my grandmother, etc. He must have been some sort of double agent my Grandad thought. He was taken to a train station and loaded into large cattle trucks with lots of other POWs. There they spent a couple of days including one frightening night in Berlin station, locked in their trucks as the allies bombed Berlin. He intially was taken to Sagan camp, but was soon transferred out to what he called Stalag luft 3b. He spent from February until May 1945 there and witnessed some horrific things, including the shooting of an attempted escapee. He also mentioned that the Russian POWs, who were kept next door, were treated "like dogs". In May, and with the camp on the verge of being over-run by Soviet troops, my Grandad, an American airman and a Canadian airman, escaped by going over the wire and running into the countryside. They happened on a car that had been disabled on purpose and got it going, driving across Germany. They had no food. He told me they managed to meet a German family in a small village who offered them food and somewhere to stay. It was while staying there that the Soviet troops came into the area. My Grandad and his two friends hid in the cellar of the German family's house as they were unsure of what the intention of the soldiers was and I remember him telling me that he witnessed "chinese looking men coming into the cellar and eating raw sugar out of sacks with their bare hands like they hadn't been fed for weeks." When the Soviet troops left, they made their way towards the west and eventually were picked up by some American troops in the area surrounding Berlin in early June (or late May). Returning to England, my Grandad was silent. He learned that he was the only survivor from his plane that night and blamed himself for the deaths of his friends because he failed to shoot down the second fighter that night. pHe walked with a slight limp for the rest of his life, received no counselling, compensation, or anything to help him get over what he had seen.

    But the story does have a ending of sorts. In his seventies, a historian got in touch with my Grandad and via some research found the name of the German pilot who had claimed the "kill" of my Grandad's plane; one Hermann Greiner. Herr Greiner was still alive. He was contacted by the historian and eventually, after some soul searching and correspondence, my Grandad went over to Germany to meet him. Hermann remembered that night, and told my Grandad that an experimental type of gun was on his night fighter (It pointed upwards from behind the cockpit) meaning that there was nothing my Grandad could have done to save his friends. He flew under the Halifax and merely shot up into the fuel tanks as it lumbered about its defensive manouvres.

    My Grandad was able to meet the face he had seen 50 years previously on that fateful night when his life changed forever. He bore no grudge and Herr Greiner gave him his Iron Cross, with Oak Leaf, medal as a token of their friendship and in reconcilliation. Hermann Greiner had around 50 "kills" as a night fighter ace and was one of the luftwaffes "stars".

    My Grandad died in 2000 and his ashes were scattered at the memorial site of his old, now long forgotten, RAF base at Pollington, Yorkshire. The war had affected the rest of his life and if it hadn't been for his courage and bravery I wouldn't even be writing this, as his young wife (My Grandmother) gave birth to my father a year after he got home.

    Ben Thomsett

    Nigel George Drever 610 Sqd.

    My father, Nigel George Drever, was a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 3, and was part of the Long March in 1945. He helped to dig the tunnel for the Great Escape, but was not among the escapees. He was also in the Battle of Britain, flying a Spitfire with 610 Squadron aged 19. He was shot down and captured in 1941, I am trying to trace fellow prisoners of war who may be willing to meet him for his 90th birthday.

    Clair Drever

    Leonard Bayes 18 Squardron

    My Father, Leonard Bayes joined the RAF in 1935. In the early hours of the 21st of January, 1936, he was a member of the duty crew at RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk when, following the death of King George V at nearby Sandringham, the ill-fated new King, Edward VIII, arrived to fly off to London. He was in no great hurry and chatted pleasantly to the people there, until an official suggested that they really should leave. No doubt the new King was dreading the formalities awaiting him. They then climbed into a De Havilland Rapide and it took off for the Metropolis. Dad therefore witnessed the first ever flight by a reigning Monarch.

    Dad served in 18 Squadron at Upper Heyford flying Hawker Harts and at the ourbreak of WWII, he was stationed at Seletar, Singapore with 100 Squadron, equipped with Vickers Vildebeests. Heading home to the UK for training, he stopped off at Egypt, where he helped to re-assemble the long range flight Vickers Wellesleys. He then went on to Crete, where he missed the evacuation and was captured by the Germans. He ended up in Stalag Luft III, and was part of the evacuation March in January 1945. He was eventually repatriated in May 1945.

    Jack Bayes

    Flt.Lt. Leslie Brodrick 106 Squadron

    I'm a journalist for a community paper in South Africa and did an article on Les Brodrick. I am posting it on this website as it helped me piece together the chain of events during the long march, as Les's memory was a little vague.

    Les recalls his Stalag Luft III escape -By Shelly Lawrie

    Sixty-six years ago, in one of the most daring and bold escapes from a Prisoner of War camp, Scottburgh¹s Leslie Brodrick, (now 88), one of 15 survivors, recalls the event and consequences. A Royal Air Force, Flight Lieutenant for 106 squadron, Brodrick, 22-years-old, was shot down. He crash landed near Amiens on his Stuttgart raid return flight. He was taken to Dulag Luft for interrogation, then to Stalag Luft III in Sagan, an airforce Prisoner of War camp run by the Luftwaffe.

    South African born Squadron Leader, Roger Bushell was the master-mind behind the audacious escape plan at the camp, and Brodrick was recruited immediately. Numerous tunnels had been dug but were found by the Germans. Bushell’s plan consisted of three tunnels, ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Harry’ being dug simultaneously. His aim was to have 250 men escape and spread chaos in Germany. Of all three tunnels, ‘Dick’ had the most ingenious trapdoor. Situated in block 122, the washroom, the tunnel entry was concealed in the sump. Water had to be removed, and the modified concrete slab put in place and sealed with a mixture of clay, soap and cement. Broderick was appointed ’trapfuhrer’, meaning he was responsible for the entrance to ‘Dick’. He had to unseal the slab for the ‘diggers’ then seal them in again and keep watch. After ‘Tom’ was discovered and ‘Dick’ abandoned after a prison compound was constructed in its path, all efforts were concentrated on ‘Harry’. ‘Dick’ was used as storage for all contraband.

    On the evening of March 24, 1944, 200 men hoped to escape through ‘Harry’. The tunnel, 8.5m down, to hide any tunnelling sounds that buried microphones might pick up, and about 102m long, had electrical light, a ventilation system and a railway track with three haulage points and carts. Things did not go according to plan. Firstly, the exit trapdoor was frozen shut. After opening it, it was discovered the tunnel was well short of the pine-forest tree line. Due to an air-raid on Berlin, all camp electricity was turned off. With the tunnel exit only 27m from the nearest guard tower, a plan was hatched. A length of rope was strung from inside the tunnel to a person just behind the tree line. A series of tugs were used to signal “the coast is clear”.

    Experienced escapees, German speakers and those that contributed the most to the operation, were first on the list. The rest of the men drew lots, Brodrick was drawn at number 52. In complete darkness, Brodrick made his way to the tunnel exit, he hit a snag at the exit ladder as his legs could not bend to climb up. He got out by hauling himself, hand-over-hand for the last 8.5m. Once free of the camp, Brodrick and two others, Henry Birkland and Denys Street, did not progress very far. For three days, travelling at night only, soaked and freezing, Brodrick and Street decided to find shelter as Birkland was ³in a bad way². Spotting a cottage, the three, street-fluent in German, decided to try their luck by “spinning a yarn” to the occupants of the cottage. Unfortunately, the occupants were German soldiers. The three were arrested, taken to a local police station and then to Gestapo head quarters at Gorlitz for interrogation. Brodrick said he recognised the Gestapo as they “dress in leather coats just like in the movies”.

    He was then returned to Stalag Luft III. On arrival he discovered Hitler had ordered 50 of the escaped 76 to been shot, Street was one of them. The men under pretence, individually or in pairs, were told they were being moved to another location. On the “trip”, German soldiers would stop the vehicle, either for the men to relieve themselves or ‘stretch their legs’, and when their backs were turned they were shot. The excuse given for their ’execution’ was that they had been trying to escape. Of the 76 escapees, three evaded recapture.

    On January 27, 1945, Stalag Luft III was evacuated due to Russian forces approaching. Broderick and many others were marched in sub-zero temperatures, westwards to Spremberg. Once there they were loaded into cattle trains, destination Marlag Nord in Tarmstedt. The British corporal in charge of the prisoners refused to stay at the Marlag camp, condemned by the Red Cross as unfit and unsanitary.

    Eventually Brodrick and the others ended up on a tobacco plantation near Lubeck. Here they were liberated on May 2, 1945, by British troops in open trucks shouting, “you’re free!”.

    During the march they were shot at by a Royal Air Force spitfire, until the pilot realised they were not the enemy. Broderick also witnessed concentration camps with “skeletal Jews and the systematic slaughter of them”. At one location the prisoners were given a shower, and they thought they were to be gassed.

    Brodrick was flown home to Canvey Island, England in a Lancaster, one from his old squadron. After tidal wave flooded Canvey Island in 1953, Brodrick and family came to South Africa in 1956, and moved to Scottburgh in 1963.

    Shelly Lawrie

    F/Lt. Alan Birley Bateman 15 Squadron

    Justine Hadden

    1st Lt. Harry Xavier Ford 329 Bomb Group

    My brother, Harry Ford, now deceased, produced a fine memoir in which he recounted his experiences as a POW interned first at Stalag Luft III followed by the "Death March" to Stalag Luft 5 where he was liberated. The title of his memoir is: Mud, Wings and Wire. It contains numerous photos of the day Stalag Luft 5 was liberated.

    John Ford

    1st Lt. Arnold Paul "A.P." Martin 548th Bomb Squadron

    My father, Arnold P. Martin, was a B-17 co-pilot. The crew was ordered to abandon ship, Miss Nonalee II because of the loss of one engine over Denmark on the way to the Marienburg mission of October 9th, 1943. He was sent to Stalag Luft III, and was on the forced march of January 1945 to Moosburg. He was liberated April 29, 1945 by Patton's Army. He is not listed as a POW at Stalag Luft III in the National Archives. I have tried in vain to have him added because I have all the proof that he was there. However, I have been referred to agency after agency, all who tell me they don't have authority to do so.

    Patricia Martin

    P/O William Alexander McIlroy 408 Sqd.

    Simon McIlroy

    Harold A. Findlater 429 Squadron

    My Dad, Harold A. Findlater, flew in Halifax aircraft out of Leeming in 1943 with RCAF 429 Squadron, he was shot down over Dusseldorft on 22 April 1943 in aircraft LV963 and became a POW in Stalag Luft III. We brought my Dad & Stepmum up to Leeming in, I think, 1990 and I remember the staff showing Dad some details about himself in a book, but I don’t remember any of the details. How can I find out more about this please? My brother and I also came to Leeming to scatter some of his ashes, at the end of the runway, when he passed away in 2002. The staff at Leeming were very kind to us on both occasions.

    My Mother was in the WAAF and also served at Leeming, and met my Dad there. They married after Dad was repatriated to the UK when the POW’s were liberated. Her name is Joyce Wilson later Findlater. I think she was attached to 427 Squadron.

    Any information that anyone can give me would be much appreciated.

    Sheryl Crossland

    Sqd.Ldr. Peter S.Q. "Andy" Andersen

    My father, Squadron Leader Peter S.Q.Andersen (often known as Andy), was a prisoner no 46 (I believe) in Stalag Luft III. His plane exploded over Northern Holland and all his crew were killed: it seems the explosion separated the cockpit in which he sat from the rest of the plane. He was rescued by the Dutch but had to be handed over to the Germans eventually because he was badly burned. He was in Stalag Luft III for the duration of the war. I was born in June 1942 but my mother died in childbirth. For various reasons I have only recently started to look into his war experiences. He became a test pilot after the war and was killed in 1951, in Texas, while seconded to the USAF and flying a F89C Northrop Scorpion (which I have learned were notorious for its wings folding up!). Any info about him would be very gratefully received.

    Stewart Andersen

    Sqd.Ldr. Peter "Steve" Stevens MC. 144 Squadron

    Peter Stevens (born Georg Franz Hein) was the only German Jew known to have flown bombers in the RAF in World War 2. He was sent to safety in London by his widowed mother in early 1934 (aged 14), Hein learned English and graduated from Regent Street Polytechnic in 1936. After a year at the LSE, he began working, but immaturity and bad feelings towards his mother got in the way. Gambling away the remainder of his family fortune (which had been sent to England for his care, and that of his two siblings), Hein got into trouble with the law, and in July '39 was sentenced to 3 months for petty theft. Released from prison 6 weeks early on Sept 1 (the day the Nazis invaded Poland), Hein committed identity theft, taking the name of a dead Polytechnic classmate, Peter Stevens.

    Rather than reporting to a police station as an enemy alien (which would have meant internment for the duration), the reincarnated Peter Stevens reported to an enlistment station and joined the Royal Air Force for training as a fighter pilot. Selected instead for bombers, he was the object of a Metropolitan Police manhunt during the 18 months he trained, and the 5 months he was flying combat operations as a Hampden pilot.

    Joining 144 Squadron in April '41, Stevens flew 22 combat ops before his aircraft was damaged by flak over Berlin on Sept 7 '41. He order his crew to bail out, and one rear gunner, Sgt Ivor Roderick Fraser was killed when his parachute failed to open. The other air gunner, Sgt Thompson, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW. Stevens realized that the aircraft was marginally flyable, and made it back as far as Amsterdam before he ran out of fuel and force-landed in a farmer's field. He destroyed the secret bits and set fire to the wreckage before setting out cross-country with his Navigator, Sgt Alan Payne. They were captured by German troops within a day.

    Stevens, as a POW in his own country, was without protection under the Geneva Convention (as he was still a German citizen). For 3 years and 8 months, he lived with the knowledge that the Nazis could take him out of the prison camp at any time and execute him legally. Nonetheless, he went on to become one of the most ardent escapers of the war. Stevens made 8 escape attempts, and got outside the wire 3 times, but was recaptured each time.

    In October '41, just a month after being captured, he and a Canadian pilot (W/C W. J. "Mike" Lewis) jumped off a Nazi prison train in a hail of bullets, and went to the home of Stevens' mother in Hannover. Looking for civilian clothing, food and money, they discovered instead that Stevens' mother had committed suicide 6 weeks before the outbreak of hostilities.

    On May 17, 1946, Stevens was awarded the Military Cross for his escape activities, one of only 69 members of the RAF to receive the medal for bravery on the ground. Another of his attempts was characterized in a London newspaper on May 18, 1946 as "The Boldest Escape Attempt of the War".

    Stevens was naturalized as a British citizen in 1946, and was then recruited to MI6 in 1947. He served 5 years in MI6 as an operative against the Soviets in Germany. He emigrated to Canada in 1952, married in 1953 and had two sons. Stevens died of a heart attack brought on by chemotherapy in 1979 in Toronto. Sgt Fraser has no known grave, but is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

    The biography of Peter Stevens, 'Escape, Evasion and Revenge', was published by Pen and Sword Aviation in 2009.

    Marc Stevens

    2nd Lt. Kenneth Doran 381st Squadron 363rd Fighter Group

    2nd Lt. Kenneth Doran, USAAF was a POW at Stalag Luft 3, Sagan. He was a P-51 pilot who was shot down by ground fire near St. Lo on July 4th, 1944. This was only his third mission in P-51s after having completed many mission as a P-47 pilot. After the war, Mr. Doran lived in Cleveland , Ohio USA, and served for many years as a Cleveland Police Officer. He died long ago, circa 1980.

    Tom Matowitz

    Sgt. Arthur J. Smith 99 Sqd

    Arthur Smith was shot down over Berlin on the night of the 9th/10th of April 1941. His Wellington aircraft took off from Waterbeach. He was, as far as we can tell, held in Stalag Luft 111 hut 357, from information gleaned from relatives. He escaped 3 times, if he done it again he would have been shot. He took an electrical course while in prison.

    Vic Hill

    F/Lt. Bennett Ley Kenyon 419 Squadron

    I met Ley Kenyon in the Chelsea Arts club in the 1970s when researching images for a book on WWII escapes. He was an artist, and was ordered to record the building of Harry. The drawings were hidden in Tom Tunnel at the forced evacuation but were returned to Ley after the war; the whole experience was so traumatic for him however, that he had barely looked at them since until I came along. He expressed some annoyance that the character in 'The Great Escape' mainly based on himself was depicted as showing fear and even cowardice while carrying out the task of recording the tunnel, which he vehemently denied.

    A number of the drawings Ley Kenyon made of Harry Tunnel can be found online at The Great Escape

    S L Waterson

    Sgt. John Richard Currie DFM. 44 Squadron.

    My father, John Currie was shot down in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in various POW camps.

    He was awarded the DFM, his citation reads: 'Sergeant Currie has taken part in 33 operational flights involving a total of over 200 hours flying. He has always been keen and efficient and has shown coolness and courage in all operations. In April he took part in a daylight raid of warships in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire and attacks by a squadron of enemy fighters. The aircraft was badly shot up, and in part due to the skill in which he was able to obtain correct wireless telegraphic bearings that the aircraft made a successful return to its base. Sergeant Currie has also taken part in bombing raids on all the important targets and has given valuable assistance to his navigator. He has set an excellent example to other Sergeants in his squadron by his continuous devotion to duty.’

    John Richard Currie, who was born in August 1920, enlisted in the Royal Air Force in January 1939, and commenced his operational tour with No. 44 Squadron, a Hampden unit operating out of Waddington, Lincolnshire, in March 1940, as an A.C.1 Air Gunner. And it was on 12 April, in a strike against enemy shipping in Kristiansand Harbour, that his aircraft, captained by Pilot Officer F. E. Eustace, was attacked by Me. 109s, 44’s Operation Record Book noting that the tail plane was damaged and the W./T. mast shot away.

    A full account of this disastrous excursion into Scandinavian waters appears in Christopher Shores’ definitive history of the “Phoney War” and Norwegian campaign, Fledgling Eagles: ‘First off of the attacking force were seven Hampdens of 44 Squadron and five of 50 Squadron, which departed from Waddington from 0815 onwards, while 12 more Hampdens of 61 and 144 Squadrons set off from Hemswell. The latter formation, unable to find any targets, turned back; the former, led by Squadron Leader D. C. F. Good of 50 Squadron, having also found no vessels at sea in the bad weather prevailing, headed instead to attack two naval vessels in Kristiansand harbour. As they made their bombing run the weather cleared and the Bf. 109Es of II/JG77 struck. At 1215 the fourth section of bombers was seen to be in heavy flak bursts, and two bombers were observed to fall in flames. These were L4083 (Flying Officer M. W. Donaldson) and L4073 (Sergeant G. M. Wild) of 50 Squadron. At that moment the fighters were seen making a beam attack, and within seconds the third bomber of the section, L4081 (Pilot Officer M. Thomas), and two more from the 44 Squadron part of the formation - L4099 (Flying Officer W. G. Taylor) and P1173 (Flying Officer H. W. Robson) - were all shot down in flames. Taylor’s aircraft had apparently been hit by flak, and was lagging when caught by the fighters.

    For 25 minutes the Messerschmitts kept after the remaining Hampdens and when they finally broke off due to shortage of fuel and ammunition, all the bombers had been damaged, two of them badly. In Squadron Leader Good’s L4168, Air Gunner Corporal J. Wallace shot down one Bf. 109, for which he was later awarded a D.F.M. P4290 (Pilot Officer F. E. Eustace) of 44 Squadron was attacked by two Bf. 109s and badly damaged, but one of the attackers was eventually shot down by cross fire from another Hampden. L4074 (Pilot Officer M. G. Homer) from the same unit was also repeatedly attacked, receiving cannon shells in the right wing, left engine and through the astro-hatch. Sergeant E. Apperson, the Rear Gunner, put a burst into one fighter and saw flames from the engine - this was later confirmed to bring the credited score to two destroyed and two seriously damaged.

    Four of the bombers crashed into the sea south-west of Kristiansand, while Flying Officer Donaldson’s aircraft crash-landed on a nearby island, where three of the four crew were captured - the only survivors of the five aircraft. As the bombers limped home Pilot Officer J. B. Bull’s L4064, another 50 Squadron aircraft, came down in the sea 120 miles east of Newcastle, the crew being lost, while 44 Squadron’s L40491 crash-landed at Acklington, the crew unhurt. Only five made it back to Waddington, where Squadron Leader Goo was first to land at 1555. The Germans pressed home their attacks closer than was wise, or indeed was necessary with their cannon armament, and the Hampdens’ gunners’ return fire had been more effective than they realised ... ’

    May witnessed the Squadron attacking a number of railway targets, while in June, as a recently promoted Sergeant, Currie completed another eight sorties, mainly against oil plants, two of them in the Hamburg region; July and August witnessed a further spate of similar operations, in addition to strikes against an enemy aircraft factory and a power plant. Finally, in September, among other activities, Currie participated in attacks on Magdeburg aerodrome and enemy shipping at Calais, his final sortie being a strike against a power station in Berlin on the night of the 23rd-24th.

    Currie volunteered for a second tour of operations in the following year, when he joined another Waddington unit, No. 207 Squadron. But on the night of 16-17 August 1941, his Manchester bomber, captained by Pilot Officer H. G. Keartland, was shot down by German night fighter ace Hauptman Werner Streib of I/NJG1, crashing in flames at Oberkruckten. Luckily, however, he and his crew were able to bale out and became P.O.W.'s, Currie eventually being incarcerated in Stalag 357 at Kopernikus - in the interim having been held at Stalag Luft III from May 1942 to June 1943.

    Werner Streib, winner of The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords, accounted for 66 Allied aircraft, all but one of them at night. His most successful sortie was flown in a prototype of the Heinkel 219 on the night of 11-12 June 1943, when he shot down five bombers in 30 minutes.

    Mark Currie

    Arthur Fenton Smith

    My Grandad, Arhtur Smith was a navigator flying on board the Wellington. He was held at Stalag Luft III in 1943 and I am lead to believe he was a physical training instructor within the camp. If anyone has any information or pictures please get in touch.

    Ricky Smith

    Thomas Albert "Tich" Pavely

    My father Thomas Albert (Tich) Pavely was shot down over Italy on route to Malta in about 1940. He spent most of war in Stalag Luft 111. As with most Dads he did not talk about his time in the POW camp he just said it's better you do not know. My first recollection was the first Christmas that the Great Escape was on TV, out of the blue Dad said "I was in that camp, we were made to march through the winter at the end of the war but that was all". We know he was a navigator on small bombers maybe Wellingtons or Blenhims. Does anyone have any memories of him? I would like to know the best places to look for information to put together some history for the kids.

    Mum was a WAAF and tended the pilots when they came back and had many sad stories.

    Jane Bell Storrar

    Sgt. Robert Allen Anderson 420 Squadron

    I have prepared the following brief summary of my Dad's World War II experiences based primarily on materials in my possession, including his Identity Card, Flying Log and Wartime Log:

    In October, 1943, my Dad, Robert Allan Anderson, qualified as an Air Gunner after completing training at #3 Bomb and Gunnery School at Macdonald, Manitoba under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In January, 1944, he was posted to the 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron, based in Tholthorpe, England, as a tail gunner in a Halifax bomber.

    My Dad was just 3 days shy of his 20th birthday on April 20, 1944, when 154 Halifax bombers took off to attack the rail facilities at Lens, France, Dad's Halifax, LW692, was shot down and crashed into the Scie River at Pourville, near Dieppe. It was the only aircraft that failed to return that night and my Dad and Paul Bourcier, the mid-upper gunner, were the only survivors.

    According to a researcher, Dad described the event as follows: "We flew down to south England and over the Channel. Reached enemy coast 10 minutes early and off track, we passed over very near Dieppe. They threw up a lot of flak and we got 3 hits, the plane shuddered, slowed down and lost height fast. Port engines went on fire, spread to whole wing, engineer admitted it was hopeless, skipper said bale out. I got to escape hatch after mid upper gunner and jumped after him, plane was diving very fast and had trouble to get out of slipstream. Saw the plane spiral down on fire and crash. I landed in the mouth of a small river near Dieppe, had to use my Mae West, not a scratch."

    The same researcher described Paul Bourcier's account as follows: After taking off and setting course for Southern England and then the Channel we got off course and reached the enemy coast ten minutes before time over Dieppe, which was about 20 miles off course, as Le Havre was the crossing point. We were picked up by radar and we were hit 3 times by flak, causing trouble to port engines, the necessary measures were taken, but fire started, and spreading rapidly on the port wing, I was then given order to bale out, which I did and by doing so landed safely. Out of front hatch."

    After capture, the researcher presented a quick timeline of events: lane goes down, Anderson and Bourcier are picked up. From there they take a train ride to the Dulag Luft, the Luftwaffe Interrogation Centre at Albereusel, north of Frankfurt. Most fliers spent between 2-3 weeks there. Treatment ranged from pretty decent, to threats to a strange scenario where the Luftwaffe stripped you of all your clothes and locked you in a room with the heat turned up high. They had an interrogator there from Kitchener, Ontario who spoke better English than some of the Canadians there. When the Fatherland called he had returned to Germany."

    Both Dad and Paul were then sent to Stalag Luft III, arriving just days after the 50 airmen were recaptured and murdered by the SS under the direct order of Adolph Hitler for their part in The Great Escape. As the Russians advance towards Germany in 1945, Hitler gave the order to evacuate POW camps and move POW's closer to Berlin. On Saturday, January 27, 1945, Dad and thousands of other POW's were told to gather their meager belongings and a forced exodus began. A day-by-day account was recorded in Dad's Wartime Log. After an eleven day trek, Dad ended up in Stalag IIIA in Luckenwalde. Eventually liberated by the Russians, his ordeal was still not as yet over.

    A notation in his Log states: May 6, 1945 Russians refuse to let Americans evacuate us, some trucks have gone back empty. Russians have posted guards who have shot at some of the fellows. On May 7, 1945, he nevertheless managed to escape his new captors by making his way to the American lines at Magdeburg. On May 10, 1945, he then caught a USAAF DC3 (Dakota) to Rheims, France, and the next day, a Lancaster to Tangmere, England.

    Today, there are memorials to Peter Warren the Navigator, Patrick Gough the Flight Engineer, and Raymond Leonard, the Pilot, in Runnymede Cemetery, Surrey, England. Clifford Wheelhouse, the Wireless Air Gunner, and Clark Wilson, the Bomb Aimer, were originally buried in a cemetery in St Riquier-es-Plains, and later in Grandcourt War Cemetery, France.

    Bill Anderson

    Flt Lt. Arthur Hebblethwaite DFC & Bar. 51 Sqd.

    My brother, the late Flt.Lt 136499 Arthur Hebblethwaite DFC and Bar, served with 51 Squadron. Arthur was a wireless operator (air gunner) and moved onto pathfinders before being shot down in 1945 and imprisoned in Stalag Luft 3.

    Arthur is middle row centre, date and names of others not known. I assume that the location of both photos is at Snaith

    Betty Mackie

    1st Lt. John A. Cotter 357 Fighter Squadron

    Jack Cotter was shot down over Germany about 3 Aug 1944 while strafing a train and sent to Stalag Luft III for the duration.

    Rick Cotter

    T/SGT Jack D. Patzke 347th Squadron (d.8th April 1945)

    My Great Uncle T/SGT. Jack D. Patzke served with the 99th Bomb Group 347th Squadron in Italy. He flew 33 missions as radio operator/gunner, his first was on January 1, 1944 and his last was April 30, 1944.

    On his last mission their B-17 42-32014 Pappy Yokum was hit by fighters all crew members bailed out. They were captured sometime after. Stalag Luft 3 is where they were sent. He stayed in barrack 72 and room 2 his POW number was 4323. I found out that he took to boxing as a recreation.

    When the camp was evacuated and the POWs were forced to march, sometime between Moosberg and Nuremberg he left the column with two other POWs. It was figured on April 8, 1945 is the day he was killed along with one of the other POWs. His remains were found sometime in 1949 and then brought back to the States in 1950.

    I am hoping to find an ex-POW or a family member of a POW that might have some information on Jack. I know some of the POWs wrote diaries of the times in camp and about friends. Any information would be helpful.

    Lee McGinnis

    Flt.Sgt. George Edward Woods No. 9 Squadron

    My dad, George Woods, who was born in 1920 was a Tool Maker at the beginning of the war. He met my mother and, because she wouldn't (initially) marry him he signed up for the RAF and ended up being sent over to the USA, on one of the Queens, to begin training to fly. He soon gained his wings as a F/Sergeant and then went on to convert to multi engined planes. On arrival back in the UK he converted to flying Lancasters MKI and was also promoted to F.Lt. He joined No. 9 Squadron at Bardney. His Log Book (which my Brother has) shows numerous training flights, including Corkscrew dives.

    His first operational sortie was in Lancaster MKI WS-C on June 26th 1944 as the Engineer. This was normal practice for new pilots to the squadron, as they took over the Engineer's seat of an experienced crew, before they flew on an operational sortie with their own crew. During the flight, presumably after the aircraft had sustained damage, the pilot ordered my father to bail out. His Log book shows him as Missing (in red ink).

    My Dad didn't remember anything about bailing out as he passed out and came to on the ground. (I believe this was very common for aircrew to black out when bailing out from high altitudes.) When he revived, a local German Farmworker was threatening to run him through with a pitch fork but, luckily the Luftwaffe Police turned up and took him into custody. This probably saved his life. Eventually he was taken to Stalag Luft III, Sagan where he joined the other POWs. Soon after arriving he met another inmate who vouched for my father. The POWs were very aware that the Germans would attempt to infiltrate their ranks, especially as this was only a few months after the Great Escape and you needed to be vouched for by another brother Officer.

    My dad soon put his skills for engineering into projects in the camp, like using tin cans to fabricate air ducts, etc. Although he never mentioned to me about the march from Sagan to NW Germany, he did tell me they persuaded the guards to protect them from the SS and other fanatics. I also understand a Fire Engine or two may have been liberated to be used in high jinks towards the end of the war.

    He was brought back to England and nine months later my brother was born. The next aeroplane he flew was a Tigermoth at Hornchurch, where he became an instructor with the RAF VR. I understand he nearly looped the loop when he took off; well, there is a slight difference between the Tigermoth and a Lancaster.

    My dad never proved it but he thought WS-C returned from that raid in June 1944. Long after he died, in 1970, I borrowed a book from a friend that detailed every Lancaster that had flown during the war. (His brother had been killed whilst flying on Lancs.) I was able to identify the airframe that was WS-C in the period about June 26, 1944 and discovered it was scrapped in 1947. So the aircraft did get back! I sometimes think maybe it was best that things turned out as they did as, let's face it, Bomber Command was the most dangerous place to be, mind you, his old crew did survive the war, flying in No. 9 Squadron.

    Raymond Woods

    P/O. Frank Reece 500 Squadron


    My Father Frank Reece piloted a Blenheim on a night-bombing raid in September 1941 on the St Nazaire submarine pens, lost his port engine in flak on the return and made an emergency landing in the shallow bay of St Efflam.

    After 5 weeks on the run with the assistance of the Resistance, he was captured and spent 3 freezing months in solitary at Fresne under the Gestapo because of his civilian clothes, but was finally able to establish that he was an airman, and sent to SL3. He was in Hut 103. He worked magnetising razor blades for the escape committee's compasses, as well as doing penguin duty and operating the air-pump. He had also been involved in the Wooden Horse escape as one of the men who carried the horse (plus hidden digger, plus, on return, all his dug sand) to and from the site of the hidden tunnel. As his number for the Great Escape was 129, he was nowhere near getting out.

    He didn't talk much about his experiences until he was in his seventies, and died in 2001, aged 81. At his funeral another POW, Owen, told how one day Dad hadn't come with him on their customary 22-circuit walk, and the man who took his place was shot by a guard in a pill-box who had just heard that his family had all been killed in an Allied air-raid on Berlin.

    If anyone can add to what I know about Dad's time at SL3 I would be happy to hear from them.

    Pamela Waded

    Jack Simmonds

    Jack Simmonds My grandfather was an RAF pilot in WW2 and was shot down 6/7/41 and was captured in the morning of the 7/7/41 and taken to Stlag Luft 2 and escaped for a couple of a days and then was captured again and sent to Stlag Luft 3 where he and other spent the rest of the war in and his 21st birthday. He was eventually was released and went and married my late granny, Mary Simmonds. that is all at the moment that we know about him

    Ed Simmonds

    F/Lt. Wemyss Wylton Todd 169th Squadron

    On February 15, 1944, W. Wylton Todd and Cmdr Eugene "Jumbo" Gracie, from 169th squadron out of Little Snoring, were flying a solo Mosquito night raid to Berlin. They were hit by flak over Hannover, Ger. Cmdr Gracie ordered Navigator Todd to bale out, but sadly Gracie perished when he went down with the plane. Todd was delivered to Dulag Luft, interrogated, then brought to Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, just before the Great Escape.

    In order to join the war efforts, Flt Lt Todd had to lie about his age to enter the RAF. When shot down, he was already 38, an established London architect and a terrific musician. As an architect, he volunteered his services for any structural suggestions to the tunnelling efforts for the upcoming Great Escape. He also was involved in the later tunnel efforts underneath the theatre. After the Great Escapers were discovered and illegally murdered by the Gestapo, Wylton was asked to design a memorial for the 50 fallen officers. That memorial still stands in Sagan. There is also a growing museum which is accepting donations for further growth to honour all of the men imprisoned at SL3.

    Wylton was also a talented composer. He quickly joined up with the Theatre Group where he proceeded to write two hilariously bawdy, original musicals with David Porter, Tally Rothwell, Peter Butterworth, Bobby Laumanns and Rupert Davies, all talented professional writer/actors in their post-war lives. The two musicals were named "Paulina Panic" and "Messalina." They were big hits in the camp.

    The Red cross was a tremendous help in supplying food and materials to build the theater. This attention to the POWs strengthened the men's morale throughout their long captivity and instilled hope. They knew entertainment and an imaginary "escape" through the theater could help sustain the men. In return, after the war, Talbot, Wylton, Peter, Rupert, Bobby and many others, produced a musical in London's Stoll Theatre conglomerating all of best parts of their past performances into a 20-act musical called, "Back Home" The proceeds of which went entirely to the Red Cross. A wonderful payback for the hope that the Red Cross instilled in these magnanimous survivors.

    Wylton went on to Design memorial for the Battle of Britain at Biggin Hill and commercial projects for Arthur Vining Davis, Sir Roland Robinson and a 98-room palace for a Maharaja in India. W. Wylton Todd died in 1961 and is buried near Wimbledon. He is survived by his daughter Virginia T. Eades and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

    Peter Hynes

    Sgt. Robert Gordon "Andy" Anderson 101 Sqd.

    My late father was Sergeant (later Warrant Officer) Robert G Anderson, RAF 646029> who was the Flight Engineer on DV265 SR-F & was on his 10th operational sortie with 101 Squadron.

    Flight Sergeant Anthony Henry EVANS: AGE 20 was fatally wounded during the attack on the a/c & my father took control of the a/c & tried to return it to base. Subsequent attacks rendered this impossible & the surviving crew bailed out of the stricken a/c.

    You may not have connected with the fact that similar events took place that night over Berlin (I am unsure if Berlin or Dusseldorf was the diversionary raid), where Bill Reid succeeded in returning his damaged Lancaster to base & was awarded the Victoria Cross. All that my Father received was burns to his left arm before/during bail-out. (In November 1945 he was finally awarded his Caterpillar Club membership & pin badge). His lost crew mates were:-

    • Sergeant George Edwin BOUCHER: AGE 23
    • Sergeant Arthur FOGG: AGE 23
    • Sergeant Cyril Terence WHELDON: AGE UNKNOWN.

    From my late Mother's recollections, Arthur Fogg's widow later married Arthur's Brother. Favel's Father was a Jeweller in Hatton Garden.

    I was named in honour of my father's pilot. My father spent some time at Stalag Luft III, where he got to know some of the 50. He rarely spoke of those days. He later was moved to Offlag IVB, from where he was repatriated after the Russians liberated the camp. I can confirm his P.O.W. number (261411) as I still have his last camp Dogtags which he had with him when he returned. Interestingly these are stamped Stalag IVB.

    The lost crew of LM365 SR-H were:-

    • Sergeant Stanley BEEDLE: AGE 23
    • Flight Sergeant James Maurice CUMMINGS: AGE 20
    • Sergeant James Henry HARPER: AGE 21
    • Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Frank Stuart MAUNDERS: AGE 27
    • Sergeant Jack PARSONS: AGE 19
    • Sergeant Christopher Joseph POULTON: AGE 35
    • Sergeant Norman John SHAKESPEARE: AGE UNKNOWN
    • Sergeant Eric George WALL: AGE 23

    My parents are no longer able to honour the memory of my Father's lost comrades, but I do not forget.

    101 Squadron mounted a maximum effort that night with 26 aircraft sent out. SR-Z aborted & returned to base at 0130 hours because the Gyro went U/S.

    Tony Anderson DV265 was one of 200 lancasters ordered from Metro-vick in 1941 and was transported to Woodford for final assembly and flight testing. DV265 was a Mk.111 and was delivered to No.101 Sqdn with her sister-ship DV266 on 2Oct43. DV265 also took part in the Key Operation against Hannover 18/19Oct43. When lost this aircraft was on its second operation and had a total of 38 hours. DV265 was one of two No.101 Sqdn Lancasters lost on this operation. (See also LM365) Airborne 1713 3Nov43 from Ludford Magna. Set on fire in the central fuselage area by cannon-fire from a night-fighter over the target. All intercom contact with the crew positions aft of the Nav. compartment was lost & Sgt Evans ordered his crew to bale out. Out of control, the Lancaster plunged, in flames into the NE suburbs of Dusseldorf, where those who were killed were buried in the Nordfriedhof. They have been subsequently re-interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

    • Sgt Tomachepolsky was flying as the ABC operator.
    • Sgt A.H.Evans KIA
    • Sgt R.Anderson PoW
    • Sgt R.G.Phillips PoW
    • Sgt A.Longstaff PoW
    • Sgt A.Fogg KIA
    • Sgt F.Tomachepolsky KIA
    • Sgt C.T.Wheldon KIA
    • Sgt G.E.Boucher KIA
    • Sgt R.Anderson was interned in Camp 4B. PoW No.261411 with Sgt A.Longstaff, PoW No.261467.
    • Sgt R.G.Phillips was held in the Dulag Luft Interrogation Centre. No PoW No. known

    Tony Anderson

    F/O. Ronald John Grogan 77 Squadron

    The following crew were members of No 77 Squadron RAF
    • Pilot Flt Lt F V S Goodman RCAF (42215) - Stan
    • Flight Engineer Sgt J Crump - Jack
    • Navigator Plt Off T F Cusson - Tommy
    • Bomb Aimer Fg Off R J Grogan (51671) - Ron
    • Wireless Operator FSgt C S Cork RAAF (Aus 422429)- Cliff
    • Air Gunner Sgt G A Hewitt - George
    • Air Gunner Sgt A L Hudson - Arther
    F/O R J Grogan was also in Stalag Luft III, Sagan Jun 1944 - Mar 1945. I believe Flt Lt Goodman was in the same camp for the same time.

    John Grogan

    Leslie Amelang 454th Bomb Group

    Les has told his story in front of church groups and on local TV. His daughter-in-law helped him start a web-site with some of his memories on it. He was born June 5, 1920, to the late Lewis Amelang and Mary Davis in Ottumwa, IA. He was a graduate of Louisville (Nebraska) High School, and from the University of Louisville (KY) School of Business in 1950. He worked 36 years as an accountant and data processor at the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, retiring in 1986. He was a member of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where he had been a deacon, elder, and elder emeritus. He served in World War II in the Army Air Corps and was an original member of the 454th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force based in Italy. His plane was shot down over Budapest, Hungary, and he was held as a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft III POW camp, Sagan (now Poland), and in Stalag VIIA, Moosburg, Germany, where he was liberated on April 29, 1945.

    In 1970, inspired by his own experience as a prisoner of war, Les founded and served as president of POWER, Inc., "Prisoners of War, Early Release," a regional organization to aid families of prisoners and war and missing-in-action servicemen of the Vietnam conflict. He was preceded in death by his wife of 30 years, Mary Margaret Swift, of Winchester, KY; and his brothers, Maurice, Max, Merle, and Laurence.

    He died in 2011 without getting his story in print as a book as he had desired and attempted to do. I wanted to let you know as he was a great man and a good friend of mine.

    Gordon Blue

    Pte. James Lewis Leighfield 8th Btn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment

    My great Uncle, James Leighfield volunteered for the British Expeditionary Force at the beginning of the war. He had already done army service in South Wales. He was among the first to arrive in France late in 1939. After the first few months "digging in" in Northern France, the Germans invaded Holland and Belgium and the BEF was marched North. He was involved in heavy fighting and as the French fell back, (he said they ran away), the Germans came in through the Ardennes to the South. The BEF was pulled back, fighting all the way.  His regiment, the 8th. Warwicks, along with a number of other regiments were told to stay back and act as rear guard for the Dunkirk evacuation,  i.e. they weren't going to get away. The order was to fight to the "last round, then every man for himself".

    In heavy fighting across the Escaut Canal at Antoing/Courtoing and got shot through the chest. He somehow managed to stay on his feet for 3 days, but was captured by the Wehrmacht several miles away near Wormhoudt, where the 2nd. Warwicks were massacred by the Waffen SS. In that sense, he was lucky. After weeks in a German military hospital, he was taken to a prisoner of war camp in Silesia, now part of Poland. He didn't see  another English person for several months and the family at home didn't get news that he was still alive until well into 1941.

    This camp site provided (slave) labour for an adjacent open cast coal mine and that was what he was forced to do, dig "brown" coal. He escaped three times, but was caught twice. On the last occasion in early 1945, he teamed up with other escaped prisoners living wild in the country and they all headed West. With the confusion in Germany at that time, they weren't caught and eventually met up with the Americans. The Yanks brought him home. He only weighed 6 1/2 stone and was a typhoid suspect until 1948.

    Kenneth Lamb

    Flt.Sgt Wilfred Harold "Wilf" Fixter 106 Sqd

    I am trying to find out some more information about Flt/Sgt W H Fixter who was the pilot of Manchester R5840 and was shot down on the night of 2/3 May 1942. We know Roy Dotrice was his rear gunner on this mission and with other members of the crew were picked up from their dinghy, earning him a commemorative Goldfish Badge. He spent time at Fallingbostle and Stalag Luft III plus other camps we are not sure of. My father was not very forthcoming with information as it was a time in his life with events he felt not suited to divulge to a young lady (me). While he was a POW we know from him he used to play poker with the guards to obtain equipment papers etc to help the escape committee. He was a fluent German speaker which also served later when he escaped whilst being marched to Poland towards the end of the war. His escape being assisted by one of the 'friendly' guards. Whilst making his way back towards the Allied lines he stayed on to assist in the interpretation of the inmates, one of whom was Irma Gresa.

    We also know that my father flew with Guy Gibson and had completed his training on the Lancs and would quite possibly have been part of the Dambusters raid had events not intervened. Regrettably his flight log books were given to someone other than family as Dad didn't realise they would be of interest to me as I grew older.

    Pauline Wallace

    Sgt. William Edward Goodman 7 Squadron

    My dad, William Goodman, known as ‘Bill’ joined up on 8 Aug 1940 at the age of 18. He was eventually sent to join 7 Squadron in Oakington on Short Stirlings. He completed 24 sorties and was shot down on his 25th on 7 June 1942 near Blija, Holland. After being processed at the Dulag Luft he was sent to Stalag Luft III and spent a year there. From here he was moved to Heydekrug and then Thorn and Fallingbostel, after which he did a great deal of walking!

    The crew, when he was shot down, were: F/O Tayler (Captain), Sgt. Henigman (2nd Pilot RCAF), P/O Earngey (Navigator RAAF), Sgt. Goodman (Front gunner), Sgt. Arnold (Rear gunner), Sgt. MacNamara (engineer), F/O Spry (mid-upper). The plane (W.7471 ‘J’ ) took off at 23-59 on 6th June from Oakington on a sortie to Emden and the records state: ‘Missing. Nothing heard after take-off’.

    Whilst at Stalag Luft III he wasn’t one of the escapers, although he helped with maps as this was something that he was most interested in doing. He looked forward to the end of the war, though, and decided to take exams in Book-keeping with a view to getting a job after the war was over. However, he eventually became a police officer with Manchester City Police and remained so until his retirement. He kept in touch with some of his aircrew and POW pals through organisations such as the ex-POW organisation and RAFA.

    He left my sister and me a superb manuscript of his memoirs of his whole life and it is those chapters on his WWII experiences that I have now had made into a book: ‘Of Stirlings and Stalags: an air-gunner’s tale’ by WE ‘Bill’ Goodman. He mentions so many of his fellow airmen and POWs that I’m sure it could prove to be useful for those who are wondering what their forbears lives were like during that period of our collective history.

    Gill Chesney-Green

    F/Lt. Errol Edward Green 7 Sqd.

    In a group portrait of members of the RAAF at RCAF Station Uplands taken after the men received their wings, identified, seventh from the left is 402795 Flight Lieutenant (Fl Lt) Errol Edward Green RAAF, who was a pilot attached to No. 7 Squadron RAF. His Stirling aircraft N3754 was shot down by a German night fighter whilst on a mission to bomb Bremen on the night of 25/26 June 1942. Four of his crew were killed in the air crash. The other three crew members became prisoners of war of the Germans. Fl Lt Green spent nearly three years as a POW, with most time spent in Stalag Luft III. He participated in preparations for escape by dispersing soil taken from the tunnel, but was moved on to another camp by the Germans before the escape took place on the night of 24/25 March 1944. Shifted from camp to camp, Fl Lt Green eventually escaped captivity with some other prisoners. After being picked up and fed by the American Army, Fl Lt Green and his fellow escapees were able to board a plane bound for Britain, arriving a few weeks before D-Day. I would love to know if anyone remembers my Dad perhaps in prison camp? I only know Camp Stalag Luft III and other camps are unknown to me

    Sister Chrysanthi Green

    Harold "Harry" Yorke 603 Sqd.

    We are hoping to publish our father, Harry Yorke's wartime diary about his experiences in Stalag Luft 7 Bankau and then Stalag Luft 3a Luckenwalde. We have made contact with one of his pals' family but if anyone has information about the following POW's who were with Dad in these camps and on the Long March please email us.
    • Laurie Benson,
    • Johnnie Perkins,
    • Bill Swinson (Kiwi)
    • "Red" Tarlton
    Grateful thanks.



    I live in Clayton North Carolina, the following is a story I heard from a 92 year old woman in the grocery yesterday 18th July 2013. She was English, from Leicester. She was 16 when she was to be married to a Polish Bomber Pilot. Ten days before the wedding he went out on a mission over the North Sea Where he was shot down. He was picked up by a German Gunboat. He was treated well and even given Brandy. He was in a prison camp for over three years. She stated he was in Stalag Luft 3 and was one of the men who dug the tunnels for the escape that "they made the movie the Great Escape from He spoke very little English when she met him, however, three weeks after the war ended there was a knock on her mothers door and there he stood. They traveled around after the war as he was in the textile business, working in the Channel Islands and Ireland for 9 years until approached by a business here in Clayton. they moved here in 1963. She said they were married for 51 years and that he died 17 years ago. She was a very lively woman and she left the grocery quickly . I never got her name. I wish I knew who this man was. His wife was remarkable. I wonder how many Polish Bomber pilots who had been in England were released at the end of the war from Stalag Luft 3.


    W/O William Birdsall James DFM. 51 Squadron (d.10th Nov 1944)

    Bill James

    This is Bill James's story, it is factual drawing on eyewitness accounts.

    Dusk on 18th August 1941. At R.A.F. Dishforth in Yorkshire, Squadron Leader John Bouwens D.F.C. is leading a line of Whitley Bombers to the grass runway. The target is the German city of Cologne, an industrial and route centre occupying a key point in the German rail network. Bouwens is an experienced pilot and is leading a force of twelve bombers from 51 Squadron at a point in the war where losses are mounting. This is to be a fateful night for many of the aircrew.

    With the distinctive throaty roar of the Merlin engines reverberating across the darkening landscape, Bouwens lifts his aircraft with its load of bombs and incendiaries clear of the ground and climbs away towards the target. A few minutes behind him is Whitley Bomber “Q for Queenie”, at the controls is Sergeant Bill James, a Yorkshireman from Leeds and at 20 already an experienced pilot.

    The aircraft crosses the coast still climbing to the cruising level of around 11,000 feet, it is an almost moonless night and they are spared the freezing conditions so often encountered. Bill’s navigator, Pilot Officer Derek Roberts, settles down at his navigation table and checks his chart. There are no fancy electronic aids at this stage of the war, just a map, compass, slide rule and protractor. He will be navigating using time and distance with the wind vector figured in. Over a blacked out continent and little moonlight (which brings it’s own problems anyway) there isn’t much scope for map reading.

    Cologne at least is easy to recognise if there is some light, the distinctive bend in the Rhine and the cathedral next to the railway yards. It is these railway yards they are to attack. The bomber drones on through the night, the other aircraft on the raid are invisible, formation flying at night is dangerous at the best of times but without navigation lights it would be suicidal. Each bomber is effectively on it’s own.

    William Birdsall James was the only son of a schoolteacher and had attended West Leeds Boys High School, he had also visited Germany with his father shortly before the war. The preparations for war he saw there shocked him and encouraged him to join the R.A.F. By August 1941 at the age of just twenty he was now one of the squadron’s best pilots, greatly trusted by his crew. Over Frankfurt on 22nd July in a violent thunderstorm a “Flak” shell exploded under the bomber’s wing turning the aircraft onto its back. Not something the lumbering Whitley was designed for! Bill managed to right the aircraft and bring it under control but not before losing 8,000 feet. It was by flying like this that he gained the confidence and respect of his crew.

    At about 2 AM “Queenie” arrives over the target area and begins the bombing run. The weather is good but this just helps the German gunners, heavy flak bursts around them as searchlights probe the sky. Despite this the aircraft makes it through the storm unscathed and drops it’s load of bombs. At the end of the run Bill turns steeply away from the target to shake off the searchlights and settles onto the new heading given to him by Derek for the return journey.

    This return journey is not necessarily the easy bit, aircraft may have unknown damage from flak over the target, there are the usual navigational hazards, fatigue, the possibility of fog over the home airfield and of course night fighters. It was a preferred time for opening thermos flasks though, drinking early in the flight might mean using the aircraft’s primitive toilet facilities!

    Derek sits down at his navigating table to open his flask of coffee when the interior of the aircraft suddenly lights up with the intense illumination of a searchlight. They are not out of the woods yet and have encountered an unexpected searchlight battery. As there is no smoke without fire, so it is with searchlights and guns. Cursing loudly Bill throws the aircraft into a series of violent manoeuvres in an attempt to shake off the light. Flak shells burst around them but despite Bill’s best efforts the searchlight remains steadfastly on target. Inevitably the flak closes in as the gunners correct their point of aim and a violent explosion shakes the bomber as it takes a direct hit.

    Acrid smoke fills the cabin and the aircraft dives earthwards, Bill with shrapnel wounds in his legs struggles to control it but realising a crash is inevitable he coolly gives the order to bale out. His crew hesitate, reluctant to leave the security of the bomber and somehow believing “Queenie” will get them home as she always does. A curt, authoritative repetition of the order dismisses any such beliefs and they hastened to their parachutes. The tail gunner, Sgt Janus, one of two Canadians in the crew, drops out through his turret but the second pilot, Don Switzer struggles to get the front hatch open. With the aircraft screaming earthwards Derek Roberts assists him and soon Switzer’s lanky frame is through the hatch and plummeting into the darkness. Derek is right behind him, a quick check of his harness and through the hatch. Sgt Lowe, the wireless operator, has more to worry about. His parachute has been shredded by shrapnel and is clearly useless, he resolves therefore to stay in the aircraft.

    Bill is now in a dilemma, the bomber was careering earthwards and Lowe can’t possibly fly it. He takes his own parachute and thrusts it at Lowe ordering him to jump. In any aircraft the pilot is in charge and in a situation like this his orders must be followed immediately, at 2000 feet Lowe jumps into the black void of the forward hatch. Bill despite his leg wounds manages to bring the aircraft to earth in pitch darkness, so badly damaged it cannot remain airborne, landing in an unlit field. It is another amazing piece of flying but also his last.

    Struggling clear of the wreckage, Bill had the presence of mind to set fire to the aircraft to prevent the enemy from making use of it. He was then taken prisoner by the Luftwaffe, who probably treated him well, as the others were that day, but the future was bleak. He was taken to hospital to be treated for his leg injuries and from there went into the P.O.W. system. Bill James went to Stalag Luft 3, from there he wrote home praising the coolness and discipline of his crew. From reports sent back home by them he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in July 1942, cheers rang out in the camp when the news arrived over their secret radio. Soon afterwards Bill developed tuberculosis, probably aggravated by poor diet and overcrowding in the camp.

    He was eventually repatriated via the Red Cross, but died about two weeks later. I have been told he held on to life long enough to return to England as he did not want to die in Germany. Bill was an only child, his parents kept in touch with his crew after the war but must have been heartbroken, as were many.

    John Bouwens didn’t make it either, he was killed the following year in the Far East and four out of the twelve bombers that night failed to return. Bill James is now remembered at his old school, I have the gold pocket-watch he would have inherited from his father and been given James as my middle name.


    F/O. Ronald Garside

    Ronald Garside was the elder son of Robert Taylor Garside who has served on WW1 with the 22nd Manchesters. Ronald enlisted in the RAF, was promoted to Flying Officer, he was captured when Crete was lost. He was a POW at Stalag Luft 3 (POW no. 3425 L3). Apparently he became a scratch golfer during that time. Ronald Garside married Louise M M Harland of the WAAF on the 28th of June 1947 at Conway House, Dunmurry NI. After the war, Ronald was Chief Air Traffic Controller at Nairobi airport.

    Off. Heije Schaper No. 320 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF

    On the 29th May 1942 a Hudson AM686 'Cheribon' of 320 squadron ditched at sea off Terschelling Island.

    The crew were:

    • Off. Heije Schaper - POW in Stalag Luft III
    • Sgt. A.C. Den Boer - POW
    • Sgt. A.J.I. Lensing - POW
    • M. Loos - POW

    The crew was picked up by a Flak-ship


    F/Lt. Anthony Graham Sadler 100 Sqd


    My father Anthony Sadler piloted EE183, a Lancaster Bomber, out of RAF Waltham/Grimsby on July 12 1943. They were shot down after returning from a bombing raid on the Turin railyards. Dad crash landed EE183 on a German airfield near Brest. The crew all survived but all were wounded. Dad first was taken to a Luftwaffe hospital in Paris, 14/7/1943 to 18/8 /1943. After a month he was sent to: Stalag Luft 1 Barth 23/8/1943 to 1/11/1943 then Stalag Luft 6 Hyderkrug 4/11/1943 to 10/4/1944 then Stalag Luft 3 Sargan 13/4/1944 to 28/1/1945 then after the Long March Stalag Luft 3 Tarmstedt 3/2/1945 to 7/4/1945 Shortly after this he returned to the UK.

    I have no information on anyone who knew Tony in Stalag Luft 3 or on the Long March. Any information gratefully received.

    Michael Sadler

    W/O. Howard Jack Mason 405 Squadron

    Howard Jack Mason top left

    Howard Jack Mason front Row 8th from left

    Sketch of camp by Micky Dee

    Jack Mason was my half brother and was 28 years old when I was born in 1946, which explains why, to me, he was like a second father. He trained as a pilot in Dallas Texas on Stearman biplanes, converting to Wellington and Halifax Bombers in the UK. He joined 405 Squadron in 1943 shortly after a detachment from the squadron moved from Topcliffe to Beaulieu. Initially he was with RAF Coastal Command but was transferred to Bomber Command. He was shot down by a German fighter on the night of 11th/12th of March 1943 following a raid on Stuttgart. Jack was the last member of the crew to bale out and said that he remembered looking down the fuselage through the tail gunner’s turret to see the fighter approaching. Jack hurriedly bailed out to find, rather painfully when his chute opened, that he had not done the straps up tightly enough. He managed to evade capture for 10 days and then called at a French farm house and was given food by the farmer. However, while Jack was eating, the farmer sent his son to the German fighter field to fetch the Germans. Jack later heard that the farmer, who gave him away, had been shot by the French Resistance. When Jack was captured, the German senior officer asked if he would like to meet the pilot who shot him down. Jack said he would and in fact they shook hands. Later, in Stalag Luft III, he was given the news that the fighter pilot himself had been shot down and killed. Jack said he felt really saddened by the news.

    Before the war, Jack had been a panel beater, trained by my father. He must have been very good at it since he worked for Rolls Royce for a while before helping to build flying boats at the Shorts factory in Rochester. This experience was put to good use in Stalag Luft III where he made pots and pans from the Red Cross tins, which he tied round his belt and sold round the camp. He made several escape attempts and was one of the tunnel diggers. In the Great Escape, he designed and helped build the tunnel entrance in the shower room. This tunnel was later used to store escaper materials since it was decided to put all the effort into one tunnel. He also escaped from a tunnel which exited under one of the guard huts, but he got his trousers caught in the barbed wire and was approached by a sentry. Jack smiled at the man which may be the reason why he was not shot. The sentry was sent to the Russian front for not shooting him. On another occasion, he and two friends tried to get over the wire using a home-made ladder. A guard approached whereupon Jack picked up the ladder, talking all the time to the guard, and walked back to the huts. Once again he was not shot. Finally, as the Allies were advancing, Jack and two other POWs buried themselves under one of the huts, covering themselves with de-lousing powder so the guard dogs wouldn’t smell them. They stayed there for three days and emerged to find the camp empty. The Germans had marched the POWs further into Germany. Many men died on the march from that camp. Jack was in no fit state to march and his escape undoubtedly saved his life.

    Jack brought back a note book which was issued to POWs by the YMCA. His daughter Terry still has that book together with Jack’s flying log book and photos. I am grateful to her for allowing me to photograph these documents. The note book makes very sobering reading, showing a bit more of what life was really like in the camp. It was clearly a far cry from the jollity shown in the Great Escape film. If the film had shown more of the reality then no doubt, it would not have been so popular. Jack said that he used to walk his friend round and round the camp to prevent him breaking down completely. I also remember that Jack had nightmares for several years afterwards.

    After the war, Jack became a dental surgeon. This must have required an immense effort and determination considering his background as a panel beater. From panel beating however, he had developed a very strong hand which I recall gripped your jaw like a vice. When he was about 40, Jack started showing signs of renal failure and was likely to be discharged from hospital since it was thought there was nothing more that could be done. However, my other brother, Don, was at medical school and heard of a new treatment called dialysis. This gave him an extra three years but eventually he died aged 58. Of course we all still think of him but I consider myself so very fortunate to have had a “second father”.

    The first two photos were possibly taken during training. The rest are from Jack’s note book, issued by the YMCA to POWs. The sketch by “Micky Dee” is quite moving when you consider that was what he was looking at when he drew it. Dixie Deans was highly regarded in the POW camp and became quite well known. The “Grace” poem is in Jack's handwriting, I don’t know whether or not he wrote it.

    Peter Mason

    Donald McRae

    My father-in-law, Donald McRae, flew with the RCAF from Topcliffe starting in late May or early June 1942. According to a letter his family received from RAF Topcliffe (Wing Commander S.B. Bintley), the Halifax in which he was flying on the night of 16-17 June 1942 was shot down during a raid on Essen.

    My father-in-law was taken prisoner and after interrogation at Auswertestelle West ("Dulag Luft") was transferred to Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Zagan, Poland), the site of the "Great Escape" (in the preparations for which he was involved). He was transferred to camps south of Berlin (Jueterbog and then Luckenwalde), where he was liberated and walked out to meet the Americans west of the Elbe.

    Mark Webber

    Sgt. Clifford Webb MBE. 21 Squadron

    We believe that my father Clifford Webb was captured twice. This article was found which was probably written by our father to his mother after the second capture/escape. If anybody can shed some light on Clifford Webb, it would certainly be most appreciated !

    The article Letter home from Sgt. C. Webb, RAF, from “Woodside”, Homer, aged 24 years. C. 1940. We were shot down in France, near Calais, on June 14th, by six Messerschmitts, but nobody was injured, so we tried to make our way back to England. We found a little boat three days after the crash, but had no chance to stock it with food and drink. Our oars were very weak and soon broke. The upshot of it all was that we were in the channel for three days without food or drink and not a stitch of dry clothing on us. One of my companions died on the last night and the two of us left were washed back on the French coast, still behind the German lines. We hid for two days to regain our strength, and started walking to Le Havre about 50 miles away, but abandoned the idea as the port was too closely watched. Then we tried to get work on the farms, posing as Belgians, but failed because we had no identification papers. We begged bought and stole food and civilian clothing during this time.

    Eventually we decided to go north and try to cross the Channel again, but were unlucky enough to walk into a hidden German aerodrome, just south of the Somme. We were stopped and questioned; I was the only one speaking French. They found out my companion was English so I was taken as well. This was on the evening of July 1st. I don’t know how I escaped, but all the people in this camp are the same. Some of the escapees from crashes are nothing short of miraculous.

    Report of incident near Calais. 14/06/1940: Merville, France.

    • Type: Bristol Type 142L, Blenheim Mk. IV
    • Serial number: R3742,YH-?
    • Operation: Merville
    • Lost: 14/06/1940
    • Pilot Officer William A. Saunders, RAF 40756, 21 Sqn., age 20, 14/06/1940, missing
    • Sgt W.H.Eden PoW also initialled H.W.Eden
    • Sgt C.Webb PoW
    • Airborne from Bodney. Crash-site not established. Last seen being chased by Me109s.
    • P/O Saunders has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Mmemorial.
    • Sgt W.H.Eden on his 30th operation evaded until captured July 40 near Doullens after spending 3 days in a rowing boat and interned in Camps L1/L6/357, PoW No.87.
    • Sgt C.Webb was also captured with his comrade but was interned in Camps L1/L3/L6/357, PoW No.76.

    Tony Webb

    Ernest Birchley

    My father, Ernest Birchley was held in Stalag Luft 3 from March 1942 until the end of the war. Sharing his barracks were: John Lietke, Syd Wickham, Keith Thompson, Les Dixon, Justin O'Byrne, Tom Walker and others.

    Julie Hosking

    L/Cpl. John Conway 7th Btn Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

    My great grandfather John Conway served in the 7th Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. The pictures I have included are from a scrapbook he kept whilst he was a POW. It is currently held by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders museum in Stirling Castle who were nice enough to send me the photos when I contacted them about the book. My mum always told me that John had been Douglas Bader's batman while he was a POW and looking at the dates and camps listed in the book it certainly seems possible as they were both in some of the same camps at the same time. I'm not sure when he was captured. I think he took part in the desert campaign and the song in his book seems to support this.
      From his book John appears to have been in the following camps:
    • Stalag IX-C in Bad Sulza in 1941
    • Oflag VI-B in Dossel, Warburg in 1942 where it is possible he came into contact with Douglas Bader
    • Stalag Luft III in Sagan between 1943-44
    • Stalag VIII-A Gorlitz (and possibly also C) from 1944
    • Stalag XI-B Falinbostel presumably up to the end of the war
    While he was a POW, John's brother Michael was serving with the 74th Field Company Royal Engineers. He was wounded in Normandy just after D-Day and died of his wounds 14th June 1944.

    John's father and one of his older brothers, James had both joined the Argyll's in September 1914. John Snr was in his fifties but lied about his age while James had been a Territorial before the war. Inevitably John Snr was invalided out due to poor health but James was posted to France and was killed in action 6th March 1917.

    Bill Robertson

    Flt.Sgt. Richard Ridley Huleatt

    What follows is part of the obit I wrote for my step father based on his recountings and some documents I then had before turning over to his children.

    A surving Stalag Luft III officer internee recently questioned how a flight sargeant could have been interned in an officer's camp. I have no way of responding. Is there any way of confirming that Dick was actually interned in Stalag Luft III?

    "Huleatt, Richard Ridley (Dick) RAF F/Sgt. POW and Escapee. Peacefully in his 86th year at the Kingston General Hospital on June 30th, 2008. Born, Liverpool, England on July 28th, 1922. Following his August 31st, 1940 voluntary enlistment in the RAF, Dick led the life of the young invincible completing 56 missions as the rear gunner in Boston and Halifax bombers.

    Luck ran out on March 26th, 1943 over Duisburg, Germany when the left wing of his aircraft was destroyed by enemy flak. Dick parachuted from the burning aircraft at 17,000 feet, an adventure which qualified him to wear the caterpillar lapel pin with red ruby eyes, signalling his having hit the silk from an aircraft in flames.

    Dick spent the next 25 months as a POW in three different camps, most notably in Stalag Luft III where he worked on the tunnels featured in the movie “The Great Escape“. Dick's POW diary and letters featured many references to POW produced dramas and comedies evidencing his lifelong love of the limelight. Dick subsequently escaped alone on April 5th, 1945 from his last camp, Luft 357 and, following a series of sometimes harrowing incidents, he made it back through to the Allied lines ten days later and then home to England. ..."

    Jacques Menard

    Sgt. Thomas Kevin May 37 Squadron

    I believe my father, Thomas May served in 37 Squadron and fought in the Battle of Heliogland. He was shot down in 1939 and was imprisoned for the rest of the war, in Stalag Luft 111 & 1. But I'm not sure of the dates. I was only 7 years old so I have no real first-hand information.

    Ursula Duval

    Sgt. Edward Hugh Horton

    My father was Edward H. Horton from Earle, Arkansas. His plane was shot down in Tunisia during WWII. He was sent to Stalag Luft III and was later repatriated. My father died when I was age 17 and did not discuss his war days. I would like to hear from someone that may have known my father at this camp. He did say he learned to play bridge in the camp.

    Charles Horton

    William Edward Goodman

    William Goodman was sent to Stalagluft 3 eventually with some of the other members of the crew. He was prisoner along with W/O J.B.Arnold DFM, W/O J.B.Arnold DFM POW No.483. DFM Gazetted 17Apr42, with Sgt W.E.Goodman, POW No.503, and WO2 C.F.Henigman, POW No.506. and F/L E.J.Earngey.

    I have his full account of the time when he was in Stalag 3 and later in Stalag 357 as well as his training and his de-mob. He used to have a book of photographs taken in one of the camps but that seems to have disappeared - he may have donated it to one of the many groups to which he belonged - ex-POWs or RAFA or the Air Crew Association, perhaps, but I have got a copy of a book of cartoons that was produced from the drawings of some of the prisoners at that time. Sadly he died in 2002 in Manchester after a career in the Manchester City Police rising to the rank of Superintendant.

    Gill Chesney-Green

    Sgt. Jack "Panda" Peyton-Lander (d.1944)

    My uncle, Jack Peyton-Lander, was in Stalag Luft 3. He was a sergeant navigator on a bomber, shot down over Friedrickshaven in 1944. Jack passed away in the early 1980's. I would be grateful to anyone who knew him if they would get in touch with me.

    Nigel Peyton-Lander

    F/Lt. William Alexander Jenkinson Johnson 112 Sqdn.

    My dad, William Johnson, joined up because he didn't like what Hitler was doing. He trained for a year in Zimbabwe, then went to join the war. He was based in Khartoum and was involved in various battles leading up to the first battle of El Alamein. He was shot down, then moved into the Qatari Desert. He was the talk of the desert when he tried to rescue his boss. He cut his radio, landed and the bullets flew, but he just could not get him out. He went back with two others but still could not get him out. However, they shot the place up.

    He was in Bara, Sulmona, then Bologna. Dad escaped in Italy but was recaptured and taken by cattle truck to Wernsburgh and then to Strasbourg to Fort Bismarck. After that he was sent to Stalagluft 3. His room mate was shot with Roger Bushell. Dad was the only Scotsman in the 112 and was on the long march. Dad finished up on the Danish border, perhaps taken by the SS. I don't know when he came back and how or when he left the RAF. He was in hut 112.


    F/Lt. Edward Joseph Earngey 7 Squadron

    Ted Earngey was based at Oakington as a Navigator in a Stirling bomber. His aircraft was shot down by Luftwaffe night fighter on 6th of June 1942 and he spent remainder of war in Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Poland.

    F/Lt. Arthur Noel "Butch" Quaile 419 Sqdn.

    My father was Flight Lieutenant Butch Quaile, RAF, attached to to 419 Moose Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. He had enlisted on the 10th of September 1939. He was the pilot of Handley Page Halifax VR-S, Happy Valley Sally, which was shot down whilst returning from bombing Modane on the night of 16th/17th of September 1943. He ended up in Stalag Luft III, North Compound, in Sagan, Silesia, now part of Poland but then in Germany. The crew were as follows:
    • Pilot F/Lt Butch Quaile, 27 missions, POW RAF
    • 2nd Pilot Sgt Bowden, 1 mission, POW RCAF
    • Navigator P/O Aspinall, 24 missions, POW RCAF
    • Bomb Aimer P/O Graham, 23 missions, Evaded RCAF
    • Flight Engineer Sgt. Martin, 24 missions, Evaded RCAF
    • Wireless Operator F/S Bright, 2 missions, Evaded RCAF
    • Mid Lower Gunner F/O Smith, 15 missions, Evaded RCAF
    • Rear Gunner F/Lt Kenyon, 44 missions, POW RAF

    This is an extract from his account of his last mission:

    There were only two aircraft from 419 on the Modane raid. The main raid was to the railway yards at Modane and our mission was to close or damage the nearby railway tunnel and the pass from Italy to prevent or hinder the German forces withdrawal. Our raid was in conjunction with some aircraft from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters. It should have been a nine hour flight but there was bad icing in cloud at about 11,000 feet (the operation height en route should have been 15,000 ft. + ). We were carrying 2 x 1,000lb and 6 x 500lb high explosive bombs. Over the target area the weather was clear moon light and we attacked at low level. I recollect that we could see the shine of the railway lines. The green target markers were well concentrated and many explosions were seen around these. Once our bombs were released we had to do a steep climbing turn in order to avoid the mountains that were on three sides of the target. I found out later that 617 had spent a week training for this raid in North Wales, we only had 6 hours’ notice prior to take off with 617. 617 had another raid that night in conjunction with 619 Squadron. On the way back near Lisieux, France we were picked up by fighters. Smithy opened fire from the mid lower turret before Ley Kenyon joined in. The usual method of fighter attack was to fly below the bomber and attack the underside or the wings by climbing up and stalling away. Ley claimed that one fighter was shot down but this was not confirmed. As soon as the firing commenced I started violent evasive action (corkscrewing) but the two port engines were on fire; we tried to extinguish the fires unsuccessfully. We found that with no thrust on the port engines the aircraft was turning to port, by throttling back on the starboard engines and applying the rudder we just sank steadily. So there was nowt to do but to abandon at 10,000 feet. Fortunately everyone got out, although my ‘chute opened in the plane after the ripchord caught on the throttle lever. I got out eventually and landed in a tree.

    My father ended up in Stalag Luft III. In the early days of 1945 the Russian Forces were advancing rapidly and Hitler ordered that the Prisoners of War Camps in the East of the Nazi occupied territories should be evacuated and the prisoners moved westwards. This was known as the long march. He was lucky enough to survive and he was freed on 2nd May 1945.

    Cheryl Fitchew

    John Andrew Pezel 815 Bomb Squad

    Does anyone remember my father John Andrew Pezel from Canton, Ohio? He was in 815th Bomb Squad and a POW at Luft3 (POW No. 3912).

    Kathy Pezel DeChastain

    Raymond Claud Walter Dennis 78 Squadron

    I served in 78 Squadron during World War 2 and was shot down and spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft 3.

    R C W Dennis

    Clement Resto

    I was looking for my uncle Clement Resto in the National Archives and found him listed as a POW in Stalag Luft 3. My uncle always said he was in Stalag 17B. I looked for his name there but could not find it. My question is: were some of the POWs transferred from one camp to another? Does a person who has been in more than one camp show up in the records as being in those camps?

    Another question: Does anyone know why I can't find `Donald Bevin', the co-author of Stalag 17 in the Archives? He was supposed to be a POW in Stalag 17, but when I searched the online records at the National Archives, his name did not come up. Update

    Donald's surname was Bevan, not Bevin.

    Danny Nieves

    A. A. Fuller

    A. A. Fuller an RAF Observer was in Stalag IXc (Bad Sulza 10th July 1941-29th April 1942; Stalag Luft III (Sagan) 1st May 1942-18th June 1943; VI (Heydekrug) 20th June 1943-18th July 1944; Stalag 357 (Thorn, Poland) 19th July 1944-8th August 1944 and Falingbostel August 1944-7th April 1945.

    R. W. McDonald

    R. W. McDonald (WOP/AG) was in Stalag IXc (Bad Sulza 10th July 1941-29th April 1942; Stalag Luft III (Sagan) 1st May 1942-18th June 1943; VI (Heydekrug) 20th June 1943-18th July 1944; Stalag 357 (Thorn, Poland) 19th July 1944-8th August 1944 and Falingbostel August 1944-7th April 1945.

    WO/Sgt Ken Fenton

    My father, Warrant Officer/Sgt Ken Fenton - POW No. 39204 was a POW with A.A. Fuller (observer) and R.W. McDonald (WOP/AG). They ended up in:
  • Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza) from 10 July 1941 to 29th April 1942.
  • Stalag Luft III (Sagan) from 1 May 1942 to 18 June 1943
  • Stalag VI (Heydekrug) from 20 June 1943 to 18 July 1944
  • Stalag 357 (Thorn, Poland) from 19 July 1944 until 8 August 1944
  • Fallingbostel from August 1944 to 7 April 1945.

    The crew of the HSL that was sent to rescue them followed a simiilar route, but remained in Sagan, Stalag Luft III, North Camp. Other names listed in a log book are:

  • McCairns
  • J. Jones
  • S.F. Roughthon
  • Harry Mahoney
  • Lional Raymond Silver
  • Stan Pannis
  • W.W. Hall
  • R. Evans
  • W.H.E. Harwood
  • P. Balson
  • Walter Kershaw
  • Gordon Bottomley
  • A. Bonyle
  • Joe Walker
  • Norman J. Smith
  • R. Duffield
  • R. MacDonald
  • John Woolston
  • Arthur Thomson
  • D.A. MacLeod
  • N.M.Campbell
  • Harold E. Bennett
  • Malcolm Gillies
  • W.M. Hard (Al's brother)
  • E.G. Caban
  • H.A. Hard
  • E.G.R. Daggett

  • Nick Fenton

    1st.Lt. Edward John Murphy DFC PH 757 Squadron (Heavy) 459th Bomb Group (Heavy)

    Edward Murphy was the Pilot of a B-24 of 459th Bomb Group based in Giulia, Italy, that was shot down and belly landed in Hungary on 7th of July 1944. The crew was captured by local farmers and German troops they spent 2 weeks in the Budapest Jail then was shipped to Stalag Luft III via boxcar. They were liberated in April 1944 near Moosburg, Germany.

    Daniel Murphy

    Albert Ernest "Shirley" Barlow

    My father was a POW from 1941 to 1945 after being shot down over Anna Paulowna, Holland. He flew Lancasters. He was sent to Stalag 357 near Fallingbostel in 1944. His POW route took him from Anna Paulowna to Amsterdam to Darth Pomerania to Sagan Silesia (Stalag Luft III), to Heydekrug (Stalag Luft 6) to Thorn Poland, finally arriving in Fallingbostel in August 1944. Names from Fallingbostel: George Hunter, Douglas Harwood, Ron Wade, James Fisher, John Hasefield, Robert Mount and Peter Robson.

    Dave Barlow

    F/Sgt. John C. Atkinson

    John Atkinson served in the RAF as a navigator on Lancasters. He was shot down and sent to Stalag 3. He became an actor after the war.

    Liz Ross

    Fl/Lt. Wilfred "Mike" Lewis DFC RAF Waddington

    Wilfred "Mike" Lewis, DFC, was a Canadian stationed at RAF Waddington in 1941. Later in the war he was a POW in Stalag Luft 3.

    Clive Jones

    Sgt. McCracken 49 Sqdn.

    My father was shot down over Germany on the night of 29th March 1943. He was captured and sent to Dulag Luft Oberursal, then to Stalag Luft III Sagan, then Luft VI Heydekrug, then Stalag 357, then Fallingbostel XIB. He was flying a Lancaster for Bomber Command, Squadron 49. His crew were:
  • Sgt McNutt, RCAF
  • P/O Cullum
  • Sgt Robertson, RAFVR
  • Sgt Fazakerley, RAF
  • Sgt Fyffe
  • Sgt Link

    Sgt McNutt, Sgt Robertson and Sgt Fazakerley were all killed and are buried in Raalte General Cemetery, Graves 5 to 7.

  • Andrew McCracken

    Clarence "Reg" Oakley 44 Sqdn.

    My father, Clarence "Reg" Oakley, was a pilot for 44 Rhodesia Squadron. His Lancaster was shot down and he ended up in Stalag Luft III. In think the year was 1943. I am looking for more information.

    Ian Oakley

    Sq.Ldr. Melville "Bush" Kennedy 114 Sqdn.

    My father flew Bristol Blenheims with 114 Squadron. He was shot down on 31st July 1944. After being in various camps, he fetched up at Sagan (twice). He was there during the Great Escape and the Wooden Horse Escapes. I understand he was a hut leader at Sagan. I have spoken to Red Eames who was there with him and who is contactable through the Blenheim Society. I would love to know if anyone else out there knew my father and has any stories to tell. Unfortunately, Bush died in 1978.

    Angus Kennedy

    WO/Sgt. K. Fenton 139 Sqdn.

    My father was born in Drax, Yorkshire. He was Warrant Officer (Sgt) K. Fenton, No. 1053472 and was shot down on 1st July 1941 in Blenheim IV V6258 XD of 139 (Jamaica) Squadron, from Horsham St. Faith. His aircraft was shot down by Bf109F of Fw. Fredrich Karl Bachmann (3/JG 52, Leeuwarden) and ditched 60Kms NW of Vlieland. Other crew were Sgt A.A. Fuller (observer) and R.W. McDonald (wireless operator and air gunner). All became POWs in Stalag Luft III, Sagan. Also a note of Stalag IXc. Prisoner No. 39204. Noted in Blenheim Strike by Theo Boiten as Stalag 357, Kopernikus and 'among one of very few crews to survive a Blenheim crash in 1941'. I have his log book and a number of photos and would love to talk or correspond with anyone who might have known him or whose father was there also. Names listed in his log book include:
    • Harry Mahoney
    • Lioniel Raymond Silver
    • Balson
    • W W Hall
    • A A Fuller
    • W H E Harwood
    • R Evans
    • Joe Walker
    • Gordon Bottomley
    • Walter Kershaw
    • D A MacLeod
    • J Jones
    • N M Campbell
    • R MacDonald
    • R Duffield
    • Norman J Smith
    • Arthur Thomson
    • Harold E Bennett
    • Malcolm Gillies
    • W H Hard
    • E G Caban
    • Al Hard
    • E G R Daggett
    • Irena Spring
    • Ann Hemmingway

    Not suggesting that the ladies were there but their names are.

    Nick Fenton

    Howard J. Bohle 427th Bomb Sqdn. 303rd Bomb Group

    2Lt Howard J Bohle, USAAF was a pilot of a B-17G Flying Fortress and was shot down on 29th od April 1944. He was assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron of the 303rd "Hells Angels" Bomber Group flying out of Moleworth, England. He would have made the forced march to Stalag XIII in Nuremburg and later to Stalag VII in Moosburg at the end of the war. He was from North Dakota and was my favorite uncle. He wouldn't share stories about his experiences as a POW and wondered if anyone knew him as a prisoner?

    Donald Babcock

    F/Lt. Brian Herbert Evans MID 49 Sqdn. (d.31st March 1944)

    Hampden P4404 of 49 Squadron had been brought down about 50 miles south of Paris and all the crew became POWs.

    Two of the POWs were subsequently shot: Sgt John Cecil Shaw was shot dead attempting to escape from Stalag Luft 1 on or about 4th January 1942. Another shooting of a member of the crew occurred after the "Great Escape" from Stalag Luft 3. F/Lt Brian Herbert Evans was one of the many escapees, but was recaptured. The Gestapo executed him on 31st March 1944. He is buried in Poznam Old Garrison Cemetery.

    The full crew were:

  • Sgt J.C. Shaw (pilot)
  • F/Lt B.H. Evans (navigator)
  • Sgt D. Young (wop/airgunner)
  • W.K. O'Leary (wop/airgunner)

  • Sgt. Robert Henry Westbury

    My dad, Bob Westbury was shot down over France and parachuted out. He got lockjaw from the shrapnel and was given last rites twice. He was taken to Stalag Luft 3. I've got photos from the camp. My dad circled the people as they died of one thing or another. He was promoted to warrant officer after his release.


    Flt.Sgt. Frank Henry Andrews Bomber Command 158 Sqdn.

    Flight Sergeant Frank Henry Andrews was serving with 158 Squadron when his Halifax Mark II No LW298 was shot down over Tongeren (Belgium) on 3rd/4th November 1943, when it was returning from a Dusseldorf raid. He was found by a local farmer, who contacted Comet Line to send him back to the UK. He was discovered by the Gestapo, together with Rear Gunner Ronald Stokes, on 5th December 1943 in the home of Robert Goffaux and his niece Jeanne Macintosh. All were arrested. Robert Goffaux was sentenced to hard labour, Jeanne (being a British national) was sentenced to death. Frank was sent to Stalag Luft 3 (IVB) on 13th January 1944.

    Frank was released by Cossacks in April 1945 and exchanged with Americans for Soviet POWs as part of the Yalta Agreement. He watched the Soviets begging for their lives as they were loaded onto trains - they knew they would be shot or sent to a Gulag. He remained deeply shocked at Soviet POW treatment - they were left to die of starvation and typhus. They begged the Brits to scrape out the remains of empty Red Cross food tins.

    When Frank returned to the UK he saw a story about Jeanne Macintosh in the Sunday Times and contacted her. In August 1944, following her death sentence, she was transported to Germany - as the Allies raced to liberate Brussels ten days later. She spent the rest of the war in prison until released from Waldheim Fortress in May 1945 by US troops.

    Frank and Jeanne met again, fell in love and were married in September 1945. I was one of the baby boomers, born July 1946.

    Ginny Caldwell

    2nd Lt. Charles Clark Heckel 428th Fighter Squadron 474th Fighter Group

    Day of arrival at 428thFS

    I've been researching my Grandfather's plane for over ten years, sadly he passed last fall but not before I was able to get some pieces from his crashed mount that was excavated by some nice fellows in Germany. They sent me the parts and didn't even charge mail fees. Great guys. I've tried in vain to get any photo of my Grandpop's plane, 42-68153. Here's the story.

    On October 13, 1944. My Grandfather Charles Heckel and 11 other pilots left A-78 in Florennes for a mission over Germany. His group was made of 12 American P38's in the 428th Fighter Squadron, 474th fighter group. This was the second mission of the day and the 12 were on a Gladbach- Roermond- Duren run, and somewhere over the Dusseldorf area, east of the Rhine, about 2:30PM they spotted 25 FW 190's flying in three decks. A fight ensued, and soon 12 more 190's joined in. Within a matter of minutes, 6 190's and 3 P38's all crashed within about a 15 mile area.

    One of the American pilots was killed, Lt Richard Holt. The other two had a collision, my Grandfather was wingman for the CO Lt Col Darling (Lt Col Darling and 2nd Lt Heckel) they both were able to bail out of their burning AC's. They were picked up immediately. Lt Colonel Henry Darling was initially caught by SS and on his knees for execution but was saved by a Wehrmacht Captain. The other pilot, Lt. Charles C. Heckel (my grandfather) was running through German farm land when he leapt a fence and went into the arms of 12 German farmers. A Wehrmacht trooper arrived shortly and Heckel and Darling were taken to a small town jail. The next day they went by train to an interrogation camp near Frankfurt and finally to Stalag Luft III. Eventually, those prisoners went to Moosburg freed April 29, 1945 by Patton's third Army. MACR attached.

    I've spent many hours trying to find a photo of his plane. It seems to have begun at the 20thFG 55th FS then was transferred over to the 474thFG when the 20th got mustangs. I've been unable to find a photo of it in either area. Some sites say it was KI-J at 474th but I don't know boom letters from the 20th.

    Any assistance would be appreciated. In addition, I've tried to find out the pilots who flew the BF 109's from that Oct 13.1944 They were from JG2 Richtofen. I know 6 were lost but not their names, again any assistance would be appreciated. I've made inquiries from and face book Richtofen Jagdeschwader 2 to every American site I can find. Probably have several hundred hours in the search. Any assistance in how to proceed finding: a 42-68153 Photo, story and or photos of Jagdeschwader 2 on 13th of October 1944 or the Wehrmacht account of pick up Darling and Heckel near Dusseldorf. I appreciate any assistance.

    Phil Johnson

    Sqd.Ldr. Victor Frank Cave 206 Squadron

    My father, Victor Frank Cave, [service # 47778] was a Fg.Off. in 206 Squadron based at Silloth, Cumberland. On the night of 26/06/42, whilst taking part in one of Churchill's 1000 bomber raids, his Hudson was shot down. He was held in Stalag Luft 3 as a POW until the end. His time as a POW was seldom talked about but he did describe the hell that was experienced on the Death March to Northern Germany. Though he did say the German guards had just as hard a going as the rest of the POWs.

    Victor served in the RAF until he retired on the 30/07/53, he attained the rank of Sqd. Ldr. After the war & after some substantial time to recover he served in Coastal Command before being posted to RAF Nicosia 11/03/49. Then on the 23/02/51 he was moved to RAF Shallufa. Sqd. Ldr. Cave's last command in the RAF was as Officer in Command HQ, Home Command from 14/01/52 until 19/01/53 After service in the RAF the Cave family moved to Canada & in 1964 moved to N.Z. where Victor served in the NZ Hydrographic Dept. until his early death in 1969.


    PO Iain Menzies Muir MID 83 Sqd.

    Iain Muir took of from RAF Scampton on 8 Aug 1940 to attack Ludwigshafen. He was an RAF pilot with 83 Sqd flying a Hampden Mk 1 (OL-N, L4053). Crashed and became a POW in Stalag Luft III. Was part of the Great Escape team, but had to stay behind because of illness. He survived the war.

    Michael Curtis

    WO Douglas Renton Greig

    My father Douglas Greig was the rear gunner of a Wellington bomber and was shot down in northern France on 11th July 1940 (near the town of St Omare). He was the only crew member to survive their injuries and subsequently was a prisoner of war in Germany and Poland. He was in the camp Stalag Luft 3. The camp was liberated by the Americans in 1945. My father did not talk about the war much but some bits came through in his later years which I would like to share with this website. I have lots of photos etc to share and still have my father's dog tags displaying Stalag Luft 3 and his prisoner of war number.

    Sarah Johnson

    Flt.Sgt. Robert E. Toomey 428 Squadron

    Robert Toomey as a POW

    Crew of KB751

    428 Squadron Crew photo, from left - Slater, Lamb, Brown, Srigley, Boyce, Toomey, unknown pilot

    Flight engineer, Flt.Sgt. Robert Toomey was returning from a bombing raid of the port area of Stettin Germany on 16th/17th August 1944 when the aircraft was shot down into the Baltic Sea off the coast of the Island of Sejero, Denmark. It was his fifth sortie. The aircraft was coded KB751.

    He was the only survivor of the crew of seven, and helped to bury his pilot two days later. He was captured, interrogated for three days while suffering from tonsillitis, then transported by train to a prison camp in Bankau (Bakow), Poland.

    Conditions in the POW camp were horrible, with little food or medical care. After five months, the prisoners were forced to walk over 250 km in a snow blizzard and below freezing temperatures with very little food, sleeping in barns and factories as the Russians were closing in. This became known as the Long March, Central Route. Of 1,550 on his route only 720 survived the walk. Many passed away from starvation, fatigue and illness. Soldiers were told they would be shot if they didn't keep up. They arrived at another POW camp at Luckenwalde, just south of Berlin. A friend from Toomey's combine, Percy Crosswell was shot and killed trying to escape this camp.

    Unknown to the prisoners, Hitler had signed an order on 22nd of April 1945 that they were to be executed if Germany was forced to surrender. Fortunately, the camp was liberated that month.

    Crew of Lancaster X KB751, coded NA-Q

    • F/O W. Fairgrieve RCAF
    • Sgt R. Toomey RCAF
    • F/O L. Brown RCAF
    • F/O H. Slater RCAF
    • P/O R. Boyce RCAF
    • F/O J. Srigley RCAF
    • P/O W. Lamb RCAF

    C. Lafleur

    F/Lt. Charles "Jimmy" Marshall MBE 49 Squadron

    My great uncle was Charles Marshall of Sheffield, wing commander/flight lieutenant for 49th Squadron in WW2. In April 1942, he bailed out of his aircraft following an attack but survived. Charles evaded capture for three days but was arrested by German Police and imprisoned at Dulag Luft but he escaped over the perimeter fence after hiding in a sentry box until dusk. He was then arrested again and was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment but he picked the lock of his cell and got out of the camp once again.

    Charles was moved to Stalag Luft 3, as it was considered more secure. However, on two further occasions he tried to escape by dressing as a German workman and carrying necessary papers. The first time he was able to get out of the camp but was later recognised and returned. Charles could speak fluent German and his attempts to escape are thought to have been with help from German prison guards. Charles led the committee of allied prisoners in digging a tunnel out of the camp through which he and 31 prisoners escaped on 3rd March 1943. It is thought this escape and similar were contributory to the depictions in The Great Escape and The Wooden Horse.

    Post war, Charles went on to work for the Secret Service but I do not as yet have any information about this. A remarkable guy!

    Chloe Alden-Dennis

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    Tunnelling to Freedom: The Story of the World's Most Persistent Escaper

    John Fancy

    John Fancy, who died in September 2008, aged 95, was the most prolific escaper of the Second World War. Nicknamed ‘the Mole’ he dug eight tunnels at the various camps in which he was held, in East Prussia, Poland and Germany. Some were 40 feet below the surface and only 2 feet square. He escaped three times, only to be recaptured. His escape activities landed him in solitary confinement for a total of 34 weeks – one eighth of his time in detention. Whilst imprisoned at Stalag Luft III in Poland, in 1942, he helped to plot the breakout of 76 men that later became known as the Great Escape, and the inspiration for the Hollywood film. After the war John Fancy wrote a book about his adventures. Tunnelling to Freedom: The Story of the World’s Most Persistent Escaper, was published in 1957, by Panther Books, and became an instant bestseller. Aurum Press have acquired the rights to publish this classic work in a new edition, which will reveal John Fancy’s amazing exploits to a new generation

    Mud Wings and Wire

    Harry Ford

    Hary Ford flew with 329 Bomb Group, was shot down and spent time in Stalag Luft 3 before being forced to participate in the Death March to Stalag Luft 5.
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    Mud Wings and Wire

    Escape, Evasion and Revenge

    Marc Stevens

    This book tells a truly remarkable story. To his family in post-war Canada Peter Stevens was a war hero, a member of RAF bomber command, and a prisoner of war who had been familiar with most of the key figures in the Great Escape. He had been born in Germany to Christian parents and sent to England in the 1930's to avoid the Nazis, although this was a closely guarded secret- to everbody else he was British born. Only after his father;s death did Marc Stevens begin to learn the truth. His father had indeed been born in Germany, as Georg Franz Hein, to Jewish parents. His mother had managed to send all three of her children to safety in Britain before the war, eventually committing suicide in Germany. Georg had spent several years in British schools and one year at the LSE before getting a job, but after that his life went downhill, he was arrested and sentenced to nine months in prison for a series of thefts.

    Stevens went through a most remarkable transformation. On 1 September 1

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    Escape, Evasion and Revenge

    Of Stirlings and Stalags: an air-gunner's tale

    W. E. Goodman

    When William 'Bill' Goodman died in 2002 little did his daughters know the extent of the memoirs he had been writing in the few years before his death. Bill's life, from joining the Raf in 1941 at the age of 18 to his demob in 1948, was fraught with adventure. He describes his service with 7 Squadron at Oakington; he then highlights the terrifying events of the night their Stirling was shot down over Holland, his subsequent incarceration at Stalag Luft 3, periods in other camps and, finally, the long debilitating march back home. All this with fascinating commentary, vivid description and the intimacy of his experience. The reader will meet his fellow airmen and Pows, the man who shot down their Stirling on that eventful night, the heroes of the Dutch resistance and, surprisingly, a kindly and caring guard in Stalag Luft 3! A fascinating first-hand account of a young man's wartime experience.


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