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Stalag Luft 7 in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Stalag Luft 7

       Stalag Luft 7 was situated near Kreulberg, Upper Silesia, Poland.


    22nd Feb 1942 106 Squadron Hampden lost

    31st May 1942 10 Squadron Halifax lost

    2nd Sep 1942 218 Squadron Stirling lost

    4th Feb 1943 408 Squadron Halifax lost

    22nd May 1944 635 Squadron Lancaster lost

    25th May 1944 214 Squadron Fortress lost

    28th May 1944 432 Squadron Halifax lost

    25th Jun 1944 9 Squadron Lancaster lost

    29th Jun 1944 12 Squadron Lancaster lost

    15th Jul 1944 103 Squadron Lancaster lost

    12th Aug 1944 139 Squadron Mosquito lost

    12th Sep 1944 640 Squadron Halifax lost

    13th Sep 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

    20th Sep 1944 467 Squadron Lancaster lost

    30th Sep 1944 23 Squadron Mosquito lost

    14th Oct 1944 115 Squadron Lancaster lost

    5th Nov 1944 44 Squadron Lancaster lost

    24th Dec 1944 408 Squadron Halifax lost

    24th Dec 1944 419 squadron Lancaster lost

    26th Aug 1944 214 Squadron Fortress lost

    If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

    Those known to have been held in or employed at

    Stalag Luft 7

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    • Bell Sidney. Sgt.
    • Byrne Christopher Patrick. Flt.Sgt.
    • Davies G J. Flt.Sgt.
    • Edwards Ken. S/Sgt
    • Eyre W. E.. WO2
    • Gilmore H. . F/S
    • Gore Desmond Wallace. Flt.Sgt.
    • Hardy Hugh David. Flt.Sgt.
    • Helme Frederick Walter. Flt.Sgt.
    • Horrigan L. V. H.. W/O
    • Jones Leslie. Sgt.
    • Laffin Mike Alexander.
    • Laffin Mike Alexander.
    • Lea H. Sergeant
    • McPhail William Stevenson. Flt.Sgt.
    • McQueen Jack.
    • Nichol John Potter. Flt. Sgt.
    • Toomey Robert E.. Flt.Sgt.
    • Vause Charles William. Sgt.
    • Walkty John Joseph. Sgt.
    • Yorke Harold. This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.

    The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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    F/S H. Gilmore 514 Sqd.

    Having been shot down on the 3rd of August, F/S Gilmore was interned in Stalag Luft 7.

    Alan Costello

    WO2 W. E. Eyre 514 Sqd.

    Having been shot down on the 3rd of August 1944, WO2 Eyre was interned in Stalag Luft 7. He had previously flown with 15 Sqd. and had a narrow escape from death by burning when Stirling LS-C crashed into a pond at Potash Farm, Brettenham, near Ipswitch, on the 11th of August 1942 at 03:37 while trying to land at RAF Wattisham. The aircraft had been badly damaged by two Ju88s, one of which was claimed damaged by return fire. F/S Eyre was saved by the heroic actions of three men, Jim, John and Stan Arbons, who chopped their way into the fuselage and dragged the injured airman to safety. The rest of the crew perished. They were: F/S A.A.B.McCausland, Sgt P.Bushby, Sgt J.B.Hammond, Sgt F.Nixon, Sgt R.Tree and Sgt J.Mile.

    Sgt. Sidney Bell flight eng. 106 Sqd.

    Sidney was taken as a Prisoner of War on the 30th of August 1944 and was held in Stalag Luft 7.

    Flt. Sgt. John Potter Nichol bomb aimer 106 Sqd.

    John Nichol was taken prisoner of War after his Lancaster was lost on the 30th of Aug 1944. He was held in Stalag Luft 7 along with his flight engineer Sidney Bell.

    Jack McQueen 419 Squadron

    I'm one of the daughters of Jack McQueen, Squadron 419, and we finally have his story down on paper. He was a rear gunner on the Lancaster and the only survivor of his crew. He was a POW. It took him all these years to be able to talk about the detail of his experience.

    John F. McQueen, rear gunner, 419 Squadron

    When he was 17 Dad wanted to enlist in the Navy but he couldn’t gain enough weight to meet the requirements. He went many times to be weighed but finally decided to join the Air Force. He had to get his dad to sign for him since he was 17 and should have been 18 to join.

    He started at the Brandon Manning Depot where all recruits began their first training. He went on to more specific training and when in training at Mt. Pleasant, P.E.I. he met Pat O’Hara who became dad’s best friend. He was with dad right through training including O.T.U., Operations Training Centre, and they ended up in the same squadron, 419. Dad became the rear gunner of the Lancaster.

    The night dad’s Lancaster was shot down he remembers a small plane coming at them so fast. He called for evasive action but nothing seemed to be able to stop the small plane. He found out later it was an 18 year old pilot and the small plane had been upgraded to 50 calibre bullets and the Lancaster only had 30 calibre so the pilot was able to continually stay out of dad’s range. When dad’s plane was shot down, dad had his parachute on and ejected. His boot got stuck and it ripped right off. A week or so before being shot down dad had asked permission to put a seatpack (parachute) on for extra speed to avoid losing time instead of leaving it just inside the plane as standard procedure. It would save lost time in opening and closing the hatch door. He never would have been able to open the door and pull out the parachute in time.

    Dad remembers landing in a tree and didn’t know what he should do. He could hear dogs barking and a farmhouse was close by. His Lancaster was close enough to him that he could see it and knew no one else survived. He listened to kids getting closer so he stayed very quiet. He could see they had guns and they had gone over to look at the plane. In the morning he crawled down from the tree and over to a hedge row and tried to hide behind a bit of growth. A small dog started sniffing in the hedge and came across dad and started barking at him. Dad tried to coax it to stop barking but it wouldn’t quit. A Russian prisoner, forced to work on the farm, went over with a pitch fork and found dad and motioned for him to stand up. Then a German farmer came over and yelled at the Russian who was only there to help with chores. The farmer helped dad over the fence and said he’d like to let dad go free but couldn’t. It would have been too risky for him and his family. He brought dad into his house and he met his wife and 12 year old daughter. She could speak some English and went right away for a map to see where dad lived. He showed her Winnipeg and the daughter showed her father where dad lived and the farmer said “do you know my brother?”, as he measured with his finger on the map from Manitoba to Illinois. Dad, of course, said no he didn’t know him. The farmer said he wished he could hide dad but said it would be too dangerous. He didn’t want the “kids” getting dad and said not to say anything bad to them or they would instantly kill him. He told dad he would call his friend who was the mayor of Hosfeld, the town nearby. The mayor went out to their home the next morning on his bicycle and brought a rope. He tied dad to the rope and dad walked behind him into town. He was missing a boot but the farmer had given him a pair of wooden shoes to wear. He tied dad to the rope so that the “kids” wouldn’t shoot him. When they got into town the mayor tried to make arrangements for an army group to guard dad but then the commander of the “kids” got hold of dad and tore his cigarettes out of his pocket and then put dad into a cell. The “kids” took everything they could from him. Then they got a Homeguard fellow to come and guard.

    In the morning a young pilot came in and he told dad he was the one who shot dad’s plane down. That’s when he explained the 50 calibre bullets. He took dad to a train and sat beside him the entire time. They went to a building in Frankfurt where the interrogation area was. They kept dad there for 3 weeks. He was in a boarded up room with a hanging light that never went out. The same fellow came to him each morning and yelled at him and got very mad. He was trying to break him down. Dad said he felt very numb.

    After 3 weeks of interrogation he was sent to the distribution point where he was given shoes and clothing. Most everything had “U.S. Army” written on them. They were the belongings from the dead U.S. soldiers. Then they went on a train and everyone was jammed in and standing up and traveled to the first concentration camp called Stalagluft 7 at Bankau. Dad was a prisoner from October 1944 to June 1945.

    When the Germans were being pushed out by the Russians and Allies they had to take the prisoners on the “forced torture walk” to get to the next POW camp. Dad has the original newspaper articles written in August 1945 by Joseph John Walkty who wrote from his diaries of the torture walk dad was on. Sgt. Walkty was the commander of dad’s POW group. He was the one who negotiated the things they needed from the Germans. Dad said his account of the march is exactly what they all went through.

    After the walk they ended up at Luckenwalde POW camp and stayed there until they were finally freed by the Russians. When the Russians were closing in, the German guards threw their guns to the prisoners so it would look like the Germans were the prisoners. When the tanks came in to free the prisoners they started tearing down the fencing and dad’s group just started walking and in a few days were picked up by the Americans who were there to take them back. On the march the Germans had blown up every bridge they crossed so when they were walking with the Americans and came upon a blown up bridge the Americans put a cable across and everyone had to hold on tight to make it across. A few fell off and were washed away in the current never to be seen again.

    They were taken to Brussels and were washed thoroughly with brushes and then sprayed and then after they had a nice shower. All of their clothes were washed and dried for them. Then they were taken to a big room for a feast and they couldn’t believe how good the food smelled. When they saw so much food they started filling their plates and the women serving them said they could eat as much as they wanted but should only take small portions to begin with. Afterwards they knew why. Their stomachs had shrunk and they couldn’t eat what they had hoped they could.

    Dad arrived back in Winnipeg and was so happy to be home at last. He still has the original copy of the newspaper clipping saying he was missing in action, his squadron crest from his hat, his wings, a German label with a swastika emblem that a guard had given him in the POW camp, as well as pictures and original news clippings of the torture march. Kathleen McQueen had sent away for the pictures that were taken in the POW camp, which were taken at dad’s camp.

    Two days after arriving home he went to a dance and met mom…and they lived happily ever after!

    Dad never talked about his experience all of those years because he not only wanted to leave the memories of terror behind, but he had always blamed himself for being shot down and felt guilty being the only crew member to survive.

    The crew were:

    • P/O A.I.Cohen RCAF
    • Sgt R.A.Campbell RCAF
    • F/O G.W.Murphy RCAF
    • F/S J.H.E.Goldfinch RCAF
    • Sgt R.F.Emerson RCAF
    • F/S L.F.O'Hara RCAF
    • F/S J.F.Mcqueen RCAF

    Debby Saarits

    Sergeant H Lea 61 Squadron

    My great uncle flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find info on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive.

    The crew were:

  • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
  • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
  • Sgt R.D.Cole
  • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
  • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
  • Sgt H.Lea

    Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 23rd Sep 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War cemetery.

  • Michael Smythe

    S/Sgt Ken Edwards

    A friend of mine is in search of information her uncle, Ken Edwards, who we believe was a Glider pilot on a mission to Arnhem and was taken prisoner and in Stalag Luft 7 Bankau.

    I believe he died in the early/mid seventies but would never talk about his experience during the War.The only mention of him we can find is in David Scott's Diary of my Time as a P.O.W. which lists him as one of David's room mates. We do know that there is a trophy dedicated in his name which is apparently awarded to Alan Sugar's "The Apprentice"

    If anyone can help by pointing us in the right direction it would be a great help.

    Graham Molyneux

    W/O L. V. H. Horrigan 101 Squadron

    My late father, W/O LVH Horrigan flew with 101 Squadron RAF, was held in Stalag Luft7 and was on the Death march. I am curious about the the report by Mike Alexander Laffin, 434 Sqd. RCAF about his wartime experiences and, in particular, the 'Death March', January to February 1945, because I have in my possession a map which is almost identical to the one shown in Mike Laffin's narrative. I had always assumed my father had drawn the map, which is on very thin 'air mail' type paper, but now I'm not so sure. Can anyone throw any light on this, please?

    John Horrigan

    Sgt. Charles William Vause 44 Squadron

    My father Bill Vause was a mid upper gunner in a Lancaster III with 44 Rhodesia Squadron in 1944. He was sShot down over Denmark on 3/4th April 1944 in Risgård Bredning Bay in Denmark, the aircraft exploding just before it hit the water. Dad and one other survived and ended up in Stalag Luft VII for the duration of the war until liberated by the Russians. His best friend Dennis is buried nearby see this link

    Keith Vause

    Flt.Sgt. Desmond Wallace Gore 75 Squadron

    My late father was interned at Stalagluft 7 Luckenwaalde. He was Flight Sergant Desmond Wallace Gore, of 75 New Zealand Squadron, Flying Lancasters out of Mepal Airfield, Cambs. He was shot down over Holland, the only survivor of his crew. He was also one of the 1500 prisoners to walk from Poland back into Germany to Stalag 111

    Barry Gore

    Flt.Sgt. William Stevenson "Mac" McPhail 106 Squadron

    My Father, William Stevenson McPhail, was Flight Engineer on Lancaster LL 975 ZN-H, in 106 Squadron based in Metheringham. On June 24th 1944, on a bombing mission over Pommereval attacking a rocket construction site, his Lancaster was shot down. Only he and the Bomb Aimer, Bill Knaggs managed to bail out. Bill Knaggs was picked up by the resistance and spent the rest of the war as an evader. My Father, however, was picked up by the Germans, found hanging by his parachute in trees surrounding the target. After interrogation by the Gestapo, he was transferred to Stalag Luft 7, from where he escaped, returning the the UK via Poland and Russia. Before his death, Bill Knaggs wrote a short book, The Easy trip, recounting his evader exploits. My Father died in 1984 and Bill Knaggs in 2007.

    Paul McPhail

    Flt.Sgt. Hugh David "Boomer" Hardy 408 Goose Squadron

    This is a short little story about Hugh David Hardy known as Dave. On Nov.10 1944 returning from a bombing run, the Halifax, that Dave the tail gunner in, caught fire as a result of flack. The pilot gave the order to bail out. Dave had heard of fellows who bailed out with their intercom still attached, so he took his headgear off and bailed out.

    In the meantime, with the aircraft badly damaged, the fire went out and the pilot rescinded the bailout order. The Halifax went on to make a soft crash landing across Allied lines and the rest of the crew were uninjured.

    Dave went off to prison camp where he lost a fortune in cigarettes when he went onto a 500 mile forced march. About 1960 he went looking in an old settlers trunk of his aunt's where he had left all of the medical records starting with the letter H from the first Camp. I think it was Stalag Luft VII. He had become ill with a problem he first had before the forced march. A Lancaster pilot who worked at veteran's affairs told me Dave was considered a hero at Veteran's affairs as there were quite a number of former POWs who got their pension with the proof of illness that the records showed.

    The members of Dave's aircrew are all now dead but stayed in touch. Dave succumbed to his illness Dec.17 1962 and was the first to go again. He was 37 years old. I have two very good photograghs of the Halifax and the full aircrew. And a Sargent's picture and a Pilot officer's picture of Dave.

    Harry Hugh Hardy

    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.


    Flt.Sgt. G J Davies 514 Squadron

    Flight Sergeant G.S. Davies was the only survivor of DS817 which was shot down on the evening of 20/21 December, 1943. I believe he was a prisoner at Stalag 4B Muhlberg (where I believe he escaped and was recaptured and sent to Stalag Luft 7 at Bankau, near Kreulberg, Silesia.

    Does anyone know what happened to him after Luft 7? I am the daughter-in-law of Sergeant Eric James Ronerts, the Navigator on DS817, now buried at Rheinberg.

    Barbara Roberts

    Sgt. Leslie Jones 630 Sqdn.

    I was shot down in a night sortie on 22nd/23rd of May 1944. Immediately captured, processed and eventual placed at Stalag Luft VII. I was forced into Hitler's Death March, liberated and ferried home to the UK. I transcribed my full story to the family in 2012. Now retired, 90-yrs old and live in WA State, USA.

    Leslie Jones

    Flt.Sgt. Frederick Walter Helme 178 Squadron

    Frederick Helme was with his crew on a supply run to Polish and was flying from Italy. The mission was completed and they were on the run home when they were attacked by a night fighter. Their plane, a B24 Liberator GC933, was shot down. It crashed in the yard of Oscar Schindler's factory. Three crew including the pilot perished. Three crew got out alive. One man was injured and rescued by the Polish Resistance. Frederick and another were taken prisoner and ended up in Stalag Luft 7. His POW number was 666. He was then on the Long March after the Germans emptied the camps as the Russians advanced from the East.


    Flt.Sgt. Christopher Patrick Byrne

    I have a prayer book with the following written on front page "Flight Sergeant Byrne POW no 118691 Stalag Luft 7, Bankau, upper Silesia". Then also in his hand "given to me by Father Berry 17-1-1945". Christopher Byrne was my father-in-law and he died in 1973 and came from Dublin before he enlisted in RAF. I wondered if anyone has any information about him as a POW.

    Deirdre Byrne

    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

    Recomended Reading.

    Available at discounted prices.

    Footprints on the Sands of Time: RAF Bomber Command Prisoners of War in Germany 1939-45

    Oliver Clutton-Brock

    he first part of this book deals with German PoW camps as they were opened, in chronological order and to which the Bomber Command PoWs were sent. Each chapter includes anecdotes and stories of the men in the camps - capture, escape, illness, murder and more - and illustrates the awfulness of captivity even in German hands. Roughly one in every 20 captured airmen never returned home. The first part of the book also covers subjects such as how the PoWs were repatriated during the war; how they returned at war's end; the RAF traitors; the war crimes; and the vital role of the Red Cross. The style is part reference, part narrative and aims to correct many historical inaccuracies. It also includes previously unpublished photographs. The second part comprises an annotated list of all 10,995 RAF Bomber Command airmen who were taken prisoner, together with an extended introduction. The book provides an important contribution to our knowledge of the war. It is a reference work not only for the


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