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Escapers from Germany
These are details of some of the men who successfully escaped from German POW camps, mostly in Germany or Poland, rather than any of the supposedly less well guarded transit and temporary holding areas, or from lines of march. The distinction should be significant but perhaps some escapes were harder than others. There were literally hundreds of escapes from German POW camps and their associated work camps during the war but most escapers were recaptured (some several times) and this article only includes those who made it back mostly to the UK but there are some exceptions.
Some of the escapes may look easy enough from the brief descriptions given below but the vast majority took a great deal of advance planning and preparation, often over many months. They were usually dependent on the production of escape equipment in the form of maps, civilian clothes, local currency and forged documents which could only be produced by other prisoners, who may also have been required to provide suitable diversions. Every escape required determination to carry out - and a lot of luck (and often outside help) to succeed.
The 163 escapers are mostly in the order of their report numbers, which means roughly in the order that they were interviewed rather than the date of their escape. Incidentally, you do need to be careful with the numbers - Charles Rollings, writing in the 2013 Royal Air Force Historical Society Journal 56, says only 33 officers, NCOs and other ranks made 'home runs' or reached neutral territory or Allied lines by the end of the war from 'camps holding air force personnel' ...
Please note that this article, which is based on MI9 and MIS-X reports, is far from complete. I have also listed some names that should be probably included here (and there may be more) but without details. This page will be updated as I get more information and the time to write it up. Meanwhile, anyone interested in learning more about this subject is strongly recommended to read Oliver Clutton-Brock's excellent 2003 book 'Footprints on the Sands of Time' for further details of many of these escapes and more.
Many people have contributed to the information in this article - you know who you are - my thanks as ever to you all
This page updated 06 Nov 2014
Cpl J A Martin (156) of the Durham Light Infantry was wounded near Dunkirk and taken to a Casualty Clearing Station at La Panne. He was soon moved to another CCS at the Chateau de Moulin Rouge where he was captured by German troops on 2 June 1940. Three days later he was taken to Zuydcoote hospital and on 10 June transferred to a hospital at Camiers. Martin stayed at Camiers for about three weeks before transfer to Lille then Tournai and Brussels and finally to a POW camp over the German border near Aachen. Martin spent the next two weeks studying the routine of the guards before escaping over a wall during the daily ceremonial guard change. After stealing some civilian clothes from a nearby house, Martin walked the twenty-five kilometres to the unguarded Belgian border. He walked on through Tournai and entered France via Roubaix. He made his way to Haubourdin where he stayed with a friend he had met when his battalion had been stationed there. His friend provided him with 600 francs, two maps and a bicycle and on 6 August, Martin set off to cycle to Spain. As a fluent French speaker, Martin had little difficulty in obtaining food on the journey and got as far as the Spanish border at Hendaye before being arrested by a gendarme who thought he was a deserter from the French army. He was released next day and swam across the river Bidassoa to Irun before walking to San Sebastian where he reported to the British Consul. Not having any Spanish identity papers resulted in him being arrested and held in prison in San Sebastian and again in Madrid but he was finally put on a train to Gibraltar from where he returned to England by sea, arriving 29 October 1940.
Pte J Hall (305) of the Border Regiment was captured at Lambersart, on the outskirts of Lille, on 29 May 1940. He was driven across Belgium to Duren (15 June) Stalag VID at Dortmund (29 June to 20 Sept) Stalag VIA at Hemer near Iserlohn (21 Sept to 20 Oct) and finally to Stalag VD at Strasbourg. On 13 December 1940 Hall escaped from Stalag VD by hiding in the laundry that morning and leaving that night. He made his way via Schirmeck, St Dié, Epinal, Vesoul, Besançon and Quingey to Villers-Farlay where he crossed the demarcation line into Vichy France. He was arrested by French police and sent to Fort St Jean in Marseille. After being transferred to Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort in January, Hall escaped French custody and crossed the Pyrenees into Spain 27 February 1941 where he was arrested again. He was finally released from Miranda del Ebro concentration camp on 24 April and sent to Gibraltar.
Caporal-Chef Sergeant (348) of the 13eme Regiment de Tirailleurs was captured at Haubourdin near Lille on 29 May 1940. He got away after a few hours and joined up with the 24eme Regiment but was captured again on 5 June near Dunkirk. After time at a transit camp at Sélestat (Alsace) Sergeant was sent to a permanent POW camp at Stalag XXIC (Grodzisk) near Warsaw. On 2 September 1940, Sergeant and three (so far unidentified) British soldiers, two Frenchmen and a Moroccan escaped the camp. With the help of the Czech railway guard, they spent eleven days on a train crossing Germany to Strasbourg where they boarded another train to Metz and then to Dijon where they caught the Paris-Marseille express. The controller on the train helped them get across the demarcation line to Vichy France at Chalon-sur-Saône. The three British soldiers got off at Lyons to report to the American Consul there while Sergeant and the others continued to Marseille. Sergeant acquired a certificate of British nationality in the name of Robert Wilson but I don't know how he got out of France. Presumably he went via the Pyrenees to Spain but by whatever route, he is reported as arriving the UK on 23 February 1941 and by the time of his MI9 interview on 16 June, he was serving with the Free French Forces.
Cpl Ernest E Lister (394) and his RASC unit were withdrawing from the Metz area when he was injured and captured on 14 June 1940 near Neufchatel. Lister was sent to Stalag XIIIA at Nuremberg and was in hospital there until the end of July when he was discharged to the main camp. He and a party of five Frenchmen escaped on 21 September, cutting through the wire during a daily interruption of the camp's power supply. After hiding out in the nearby hills for three days, the party hitched a ride on the bogies of a series of goods trains, travelling only at night and hiding by day, until they reached the Rhine opposite Strasbourg. After a further three days spent observing the traffic patterns, they stole a motor boat to cross the river. Their action was spotted and German guards opened up with a machine-gun which killed three of the party but a fourth Frenchman replied with the boat's own gun and the survivors reached the opposite shore. They made their way to Rombas where Lister had been stationed earlier and were sheltered there for another three days. They continued on into France but were recaptured on the way to Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise and sent to a transit camp at Epinal. They soon escaped by hiding on a lorry leaving the camp and continued their journey south, crossing the demarcation line to Mâcon in Vichy France where they were arrested by the French authorities and sent to Fort St Jean in Marseille. Lister soon left St Jean and was living in Cannes until the end of April when he was arrested by French detectives and taken to Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort. Lister was passed (perhaps fraudulently) by the Mixed Medical Board in Marseille as unfit and repatriated through Madrid to Gibraltar.
F/O Harry Burton (433) was the pilot of 149 Sqn Wellington R3163 which was lost over Germany on the night of 5-6 September 1940 and the crew captured. I don't have a copy of his MI9 report but Burton escaped from Stalag Luft I (Barth) in May 1941 and made his way to Sweden.
2/Lt Peter F S Douglas (434)
2/Lt Chandos Blair (447) was captured with his 2 Seaforth Highlanders unit at Le Tot near Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 11 June 1940. He and other captured officers were driven by car to Rouen and then marched through France to Holland where they were put on river barges and sent to Germany. Blair was held at Oflag VIIC (Laufen) until 1 March 1941 when he was moved to Stalag XXID (Posen) in Poland. On 4 June he was moved to Oflag VB (Biberach) in southern Germany and on 30 June, he escaped. I don't have details of the actual escape (although I understand he was smuggled out with an OR working party) but Blair then made his way along the railway lines as far as Stockach before taking the road to Aach and crossing the border into Switzerland near Thayngen. Blair stayed in Switzerland until 12 January 1942 when he and evader W/Cdr P A Gilchrist (672) left for Gibraltar. I don't have details of their journey through France but Gilchrist left Gibraltar by air for the UK on 27 January 1942 and Blair followed on 11 February.
The next eleven escapers were all captured at the very beginning of the war in France, taken to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland and subsequently escaped from various work-camps attached to the Stalag. They escaped to Russia at time when the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 was still in force and so were held in Russian prison camps (often in far worse conditions than Thorn) and brought together at an internment camp until the German invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, on 22 June 1941.
TSM G S Briggs (454) was captured on 18 May 1940 at Brusselghem in Belgium when his RAC Squadron ran out of ammunition and was forced to surrender. After being marched to Louvain, the prisoners were taken by train to Stalag VIF at Bocholt for twelve days before being moved across Germany to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. Briggs describes conditions at Thorn as being "very bad" with prisoners sleeping closely packed on mattresses on the floor and everyone being plagued by lice. Rations were insufficient and there was a lack of drinking water, resulting in wide-spread stomach complaints. On 21 July, Briggs was transferred to a work-camp at Winduga where, as senior NCO, he was made camp leader.
On 27 July 1940, Briggs and Petty Officer Maurice Barnes (from HM Submarine Seal) escaped from Winduga. This was apparently quite easy to do (there was only a single wire fence) and was a common occurrence but usually prisoners were rounded up again within a few hours. Briggs and Barnes headed south-east and were soon helped by local Poles who advised them to head for Russia. An organisation of Polish ex-officers in Warsaw helped them to the border, which they reached on 9 September. Their helpers left them at that point but as they were approaching a Russian sentry position, they were fired upon and Barnes was hit in the leg. Briggs understood that Barnes was taken to a Russian hospital while he was held in a prison at Belostok and then taken to the Luvianko (Lubyanka) prison in Moscow. He says that conditions were indescribable - the prison was overcrowded with Poles and they had little food or facilities for heating or washing. In early February, Briggs was moved to an internment camp at Micrurin, near Smolensk, where he met other escaped POWs and condition were slightly improved. They remained at Micrurin until 22 June when they were put on a train said to be going to Siberia but a few days later, the British POWs were taken off the train, embraced by their guards and sent back to Moscow. They were given quarters in a small hotel and on 6 July 1941, released and handed over to the British Embassy.
Pte J Waller (455) (Green Howards) Pte W J Roberts (456) and Cpl Bainbridge (457) (both DLI) were captured (separately) south of Arras on 21 May 1940. They were taken to Cambrai and then by train to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland, arriving 9 June. On 15 July, they were sent to a work-camp at Konitz. On 21 September, Waller, Roberts and Bainbridge escaped from Konitz - along with Pte A Hodges and Pte R Hodgson (both Green Howards) and Pte Pawson (DLI) - by forcing a window and then a barbed-wire fence with an axe. They travelled south, reaching Tuchei seven days later where they were spotted by someone who called the police. All six men got away and then split into two parties, Hodges, Hodgson and Pawson not being heard from again. Waller, Roberts and Bainbridge acquired civilian clothes and a compass from an American Pole at Schiere who also arranged for them to cross the Vistula river. They went through Wabreszno to Rypin where an organisation helped them with money and shelter before going on to cross the border into Russia near Ostrow on 24 February 1941. They were captured by Russian troops almost immediately and held at Lomza for a month and then five weeks at Minsk before being taken to an internment camp (at Micrurin) where they met the rest of the party ...
In November 2014, Anthony Thomas kindly sent me further details of Pte William John Roberts (456) including letters from Antoni Szymanski whose family sheltered Roberts, Waller and Bainbridge at their home in the village of Siemcichy.
L/Cpl Arthur J Webb (458) (Welsh Guards) was captured at Boulogne on 3 June 1940 and L/Cpl J R Tomlinson (459) captured near Bethune with his Argyll and Southerland unit on 27 May. Both were marched to Cambrai where they worked for some time unloading food and ammunition before being taken by train to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. On 21 July, they were sent to a work-camp at Winduga. Webb and Tomlinson escaped from Winduga on 2 August 1941 by hiding in the cook-house where Webb worked and climbing out of the window that night.
Webb and Tomilinson made their way to an address they had been given by Polish workmen in the camp. They were welcomed with hot food and a change of clothes and next day, set off heading towards Rumania. Twelve days later they were told the Germans had invaded Rumania and so they changed direction and headed east towards Russia. They were continually helped by Poles, especially a rich Polish famiiy who sent them to Warsaw. From Warsaw, they walked to Wyszkow where they crossed the river Bug by ferry. They crossed into Russia near Ostrow on 22 August and were promptly captured by Russian troops. They were handcuffed and taken by train to Bailystow, and two weeks later, sent to Moscow and held in separate cells at Lubyanka prison. Eventually (no date) they were transferred to another prison in Moscow where they met Corkery (460) Doyle (461) and Massey (query) and three Englishmen (two of whom are named as Harold Watkins and Frank Baxter) who had volunteered to fight with the Finns in September 1940, been captured and held in Russian prisons ever since. They stayed at this prison until the German invasion in June at which point they were put on a train for Siberia - see Briggs (454) above ...
Cpl W Corkery (460) (8 Bn Sherwood Foresters) was captured by a German mopping-up party north of Lillehammer (Norway) on 27 April 1940. He was taken to Oslo by train, ferry to Denmark and then by ship to Stettin, Germany. He was first sent to Bromberg where POWs were working on gun ranges but when Corkery refused to work there, he was sent next day (7 July) to Stalag XXA, Fort 13 at Winduga on the Vistula river ...
Pte H Doyle (461) was on outpost duty with D Company, 5 Gordon Highlanders in the Saar valley when, on 5 May 1940, they were overwhelmed. On 7 July, he (and other ORs) were sent to Stalag XXA at Thorn in Poland and shortly afterward, transferred with a party of 150 ORs to a work camp at Fort 13, Winduga ...
Corkery and Doyle escaped from Winduga in the early hours of 3 December 1940 by walking through the canteen and crossing the single wire fence. They made their way over several days to Warsaw where an organisation helped them to cross the frontier at Ostroleica. They walked five miles inside Russia before being captured and sent to Lomsa prison. Three days at Lomsa were followed by nine days at Bialostok and fifteen at Minsk before being sent to a slightly better prison in Moscow. About a fortnight later, they and about 140 French prisoners, were transferred to a camp at Smolensk where they stayed until 22 June 1941. They were put into cattle-trucks on a train rumoured to be bound for Siberia but then suddenly ordered off and returned to camp before transfer to a hotel in Moscow ...
Bandsman K W Bateman (462) was captured with his RWF unit at Robecq, near Bethune, on 25 May 1940 by a detachment from a German tank battalion. They were sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland, arriving there on 6 June ...
Pte E Boughton (463) (2 Wiltshire Regt) was wounded and captured at the Regimental Aid Post at Arras on 23 May 1940. After being marched (despite his injured foot) through Cambrai, Boughton (and others) were sent by rail to Stalag XXB (Thorn) in Poland, arriving there on 6 June ....
On arrival at Thorn, Bateman and Boughton were sent to Fort 13 (Boughton spending a short time in hospital at nearby Fort 14) until early July when they were both transferred to a work camp at Kulm (Chermno) about 25 miles north of the main camp at Thorn. In the early hours of 18 October 1940, Bateman and Boughton escaped from Kulm by climbing a lavatory wall and crawling under the barbed-wire fence. They spent the next four weeks working their way through Rypin, Mlawa and Makow, crossing into Russian occupied Poland on 19 November. They were soon arrested and spent time in prisons at Celestos and Minsk before being transferred to an internment camp at Smolensk in February1941. They stayed at Smolensk until the end of June when they were moved to a hotel in Moscow for a week before their release on 8 July.
Cpl H Lovegrove (464) was attached to C Company HQ of 4 Bn Gordon Highlanders near Asche in Belgium when they were overrun on 18 May 1940 by German troops. Lovegrove and five others managed to escape but were betrayed and captured the following day. He (with others) was marched through Brussels and across Holland to Stalag VIF (Bocholt). After a week at Bocholt, he was taken by cattle-truck to Stalag XXA at Thorn where he spent the first ten days in hospital suffering from exhaustion and debilitation, sharing his room with sailors HM Submarine Seal. At the beginning of July, POWs were sorted into groups and Lovegrove joined a party of about 200 sent to Gruppe (Grupa) where they were building a school for parachutists and Lovegrove worked at his trade as an ornamental plasterer.
On 28 August 1940, Lovegrove escaped from Grupa after knocking out the solitary guard and crossed the road to rendezvous with Pte John Finley (Queen's Royal Regt) and another (unnamed) private. They had a map and compass, given to Lovegrove by a Polish professor who was employed by the Germans as a labourer. They cut across country to the Vistula but the other two men decided against trying to cross and Lovegrove swam across alone. He stayed two days at an address in Lwalle given him by the professor before carrying on through Soldau, Groudenz and Ostrelenka to cross the river Bug. A few hours after crossing into Russia, Lovegrove was picked up by a group of Cossacks and spent the next five months in a series of prisons in "appalling conditions" until being taken to Smolensk in February. He remained at Smolensk until the end of June when he was taken to a hotel in Moscow and a week later, handed over to the British Embassy.
F/Lt John T L Shore (593) was the pilot of 9 Sqn Wellington R1335 which was shot down over Holland on the night of 27/28 March 1941 and the crew captured. Shore arrived at Stalag Luft I (Barth) on 17 April, and after some months of inactivity, noticed that a tunnel had been started from a rubbish bin. He approached the man responsible for it (P/O B A James) and they joined forces. They dug their twenty-five foot tunnel out under the football pitch during the daily football matches and once the tunnel was complete, it just a question of waiting for a suitable air raid to cover their escape. At ten-thirty in the evening of 19 October, aircraft were heard overhead and all the lights went out. Shore crawled through the tunnel and after waiting in vain for James to follow, carried on walking through the night towards Sassnitz. It took him two nights to reach the coast at Binz where again, he lay up for the day. That evening he walked into the ferry port of Sassnitz and taking the advice sent back to the camp by Harry Burton (433) "Sassnitz Ferry 1630 - hide under tarpaulin" duly climbed into a railway wagon marked with a Dutch name, covered himself with a tarpaulin and went to sleep for the rest of the night. The following afternoon, Shore was forced to hurredly vacate his wagon when he found it being shunted back into Sassnitz station and by the time he sorted himself out, was only able to watch that day's ferry sail for Sweden without him. After cleaning himself up in a pullman carriage wash-room, Shore realised there might be a second ship leaving early next morning and duly smuggled himself on board a truck that was then loaded onto the early morning (three-thirty) ferry. Shore reached Trelleborg a few hours later where he was arrested and taken to a Swedish police station. He gave the name Harry Burton and this was apparently recognised because shortly afterwards, an English-speaking man appeared and arrangements were made to take Shore to the British Legation in Stockholm. Shore left Stockholm by air for the UK on 28 October 1941.
Cpl J A Parker (615) and his AIF Company were captured at Suda Bay, Crete following the order to surrender on 1 June 1941. After being held for a while in Greece, Parker arrived at Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) north-east of Munich, on about 26 August. On 26 November, Parker and two others (Bdr Gliddon and Gnr Ross) escaped from a work party outside the camp. Ross was soon separated from the other two who walked into Munich. At the marshalling yard, the two escapers secured themselves underneath a train which took them all the way to St Margrethen in Switzerland, arriving 28 November. During his time in Switzerland, Parker met Victor Farrell (SIS Station Chief) and on 30 April 1942, Parker and Pte David Lang (782) were taken to the border near Geneva where they were directed to cross over and meet a man who would take them into Annemasse. From there they were taken to Marseille and handed over to Mario Prassinos of the Pat O'Leary line who took them to stay the night with Dr Georges Rodocanachi. Next day Pat O'Leary took them to Nimes where they stayed three weeks with Gaston Negre and were joined by Pte David Edwards (781). On 22 May, O'Leary took them to Toulouse where they stayed the night at the Hotel de Paris. Next day they were taken to Osseja from where two guides from the Ponzan-Vidal organisation took them across the Pyrenees to the British Consulate in Barcelona. A month later they were in Gibraltar waiting for a ship to take them back to England.
Lang and Edwards had escaped together from Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) 31 March 1942 - see below
Capt H Barry O'Sullivan (637) was 2ic of a squadron of tanks guarding the approaches to Calais in May 1940. With their equipment destroyed by enemy action, O'Sullivan and the surviving members of his unit tried to return to the town on foot but they were captured by German armoured units near Guines. O'Sullivan was sent to Oflag VII C/H (Laufen) in early June 1940 and then, following a failed escape attempt, to Stalag XXID (Posen) in March 1941 for three months before transfer to Oflag VB at Biberach, with its distant views of the Swiss mountains ...
Capt Hugh A Woollatt (638) was captured with his carrier platoon at the L'Escaut Canal on 22 May 1940. Woollatt was sent to Oflag VII C/H (Laufen) Stalag XXID (Posen) and then Stalag XXA (Thorn) before finally arriving at Biberach on 3 June 1941. That same day, plans were put to the Escape Committee to begin work on a tunnel. They would have preferred to start from the barracks block near the wire (subsequently used for the second tunnel) but at the time, the barracks were unoccupied and locked so their next best option was from a latrine. The plan was approved and work started immediately ...
Lt Michael G Duncan (639) was falling back towards Dunkirk with his and other units when he was captured near Watou on 30 May 1940. He was sent to Oflag VII C/H (Laufen) until March 1941 when he was moved to Stalag XXI at Posen (where he met Barry O'Sullivan) and then to Oflag VB (Biberach) in June ...
2/Lt Angus D Rowan-Hamilton (640) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He and other officers were marched to Holland and sent to Germany, firstly to Oflag VII C/H (Laufen) then Stalag XXID (Posen) and finally in June 1941 to Oflag VB at Biberach. Soon after his arrival, a tunnel was started from the barracks block and Rowan-Hamilton acted as outside guard ...
On the rail journey to Biberach, Duncan and O'Sullivan had joined with four other officers in an attempt to escape from the train. That attempt was thwarted but they soon came up with another escape plan, this time via a tunnel. At the time of their arrival at Biberach, the men from Thorn had already started tunneling their way out from a deep latrine but after some consideration, the camp's Escape Committee allowed the second tunnel to be started. In the event, both tunnels were dug and it was only later that this second tunnel took precedence.
Work on the barracks tunnel began on 24 June 1941. The entrance was hidden under a stove in one of the huts in Block 6, just six feet from the perimeter wire. The tunnel was 145 feet long and ran under the wire and perimeter track with the exit just over a small ridge crest. It took until 11 September to complete and two days later, a group of twenty-six officers were ready to escape.
Michael Duncan was the first man out and he was quickly joined by second man O'Sullivan. They travelled together, walking across country at night on compass bearings and using a deliberately circuitous route (they started by going north) to avoid detection. Unfortunately Duncan had fallen into an irrigation ditch and damaged a knee shortly after leaving the camp and after a week of slower than anticipated progress, he persuaded O'Sullivan, who was by then handicapped by failing footwear, to go on without him. Duncan crossed into Switzerland near Schleitheim in the early hours on 27 September.
Barry O'Sullivan didn't make much better progress than Duncan. He also crossed the border near Schleitheim the night of 26/27 September, just hours ahead of Duncan. He was walking in virtually bare feet after his shoes finally gave out on him.
While most of the escapers paired up, Hugh Woollatt had already decided that he would travel alone. As the eleventh man out of the tunnel, Woollatt used all the 'classic' evasion techniques of avoiding inhabited areas and metalled roads, travelling by night and hiding during the day, to be within striking distance of the Swiss border in six days. Unfortunately, the bright moonlight of 19/20 September forced him to lay up in some woods near Welschingen and delay his crossing to Thayngen until the following night.
Angus Rowan-Hamilton had planned to join two fellow officers who left before him but there was delay in the tunnel and he never managed to find them. He also used the 'classic' evasion techniques, and although he describes at least some of his journey as a nightmare, made even better progress than Woollatt, reaching the Swiss border and crossing to Thayngen in the early hours of 19 September.
The other twenty-two escapers were subsequently recaptured and in October 1941 the POWs at Biberach were moved to Oflag VIB (Warburg) near Dossel in north-west Germany.
The four escapers stayed in Switzerland until the following April ...
Michael Duncan and Angus Rowan-Hamilton left Switzerland under instruction from the Military Attaché - although it was more likely by arrangement with Victor Farrell. According to Duncan's book, they were called at short notice to Geneva and given Czech identity cards and instructions for leaving the country that were to be memorised. They were taken to a cemetery on the outskirts of the city and directed to cross under the wire and walk towards Annemasse where they would be met and passed to various contacts who would take them to Marseille. The trip didn't go exactly according to plan but they arrived safely in the city and were taken to stay with Louis Nouveau for three nights during which time they met Pat O'Leary. Nouveau's records show them arriving about 25 April 1942.
Louis Nouveau took Duncan, Rowan-Hamilton and a Dutchman known as Decker to Toulouse where they stayed at the Hotel de Paris. They were joined a few days later by Cpl Wheeler (740) and L/Cpl Sims (783) two Commandos evaders from the St Nazaire raid the previous month. On 2 May they went by train to Banyuls-sur-Mer where they were passed over to a guide from the Ponzan-Vidal organisation who took them across the Pyrenees to the British Consulate in Barcelona.
For more details of Michael Duncan's story see 'Underground from Posen' by Michael Duncan
Barry O'Sullivan would probably have left with Duncan but Duncan says he was "up in the mountains somewhere" when the call came to leave. O'Sullivan left Geneva on 23 April in a similar way to Duncan, crossing to Annemasse and then being taken by train from Annercy to Marseille and delivered to the Petit Poucet cafe. O'Sullivan was passed on to Mario Prassinos who took him to Louis Nouveau's apartment - Nouveau records him as arriving on about 28 April. O'Sullivan stayed for fifteen days, during which time he met Joseph (Pat O'Leary) before leaving for Narbonne and Banyuls. He began his climb over the Pyrenees that night with a party that included RAF evader Sgt William Mills (745) A M Hecht (a Dutchman who had escaped from Amsterdam and had also come from Geneva) and two other Dutchmen who joined them at Banyuls. After one night in the mountains, they reached Vilajuiga from where they took a train to Barcelona and the British Consulate.
Hugh Woollatt left Switzerland with Airey Neave on 15 April see below
Lt Airey M S Neave (676) was wounded during the defence of Calais and captured on 26 May 1940. After months in a hospital in Lille and still suffering from his wounds, Neave was sent to Oflag IXA (Spangenberg) until March 1941 when he was moved to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. Following his first escape and subsequent capture a few days later, Neave was sent to Oflag IVC (Colditz) in May 1941. His first escape attempt from Colditz in August 1941 ended at the main gate but his second attempt on 5 January 1942, again disguised as a German officer but this time with Dutch Lt Toni Luteyn, resulted in them both getting safely to Switzerland in just four days.
It wasn't until 14 April that Neave was suddenly summoned to Geneva to meet a mysterious man at the station. Over drinks, the man explained that Neave was to escape over the Swiss border the next day with Capt Hugh Woollatt. Early next morning Neave and Woollatt were taken to a small cemetery where the border was pointed out to them. They were to cross the wire and stand by a signpost to Annemasse where they would be collected. The arrangements worked perfectly and the two men were delivered safely to Louis Nouveau and the Pat O'Leary organisation in Marseille.
Woollatt and Neave are recorded as arriving at Louis Nouveau's on 16 April where (according to Neave's book) they stayed for a week. On about 23 April they were taken to Toulouse where they stayed another week at the Hotel de Paris before being taken to Perpignan. They (with others) were taken and across the Pyrenees and delivered to the British Consulate in Barcelona courtesy of the Ponzan-Vidal organisation.
For more details of Airey Neave's story see 'They Have Their Exits' by Airey Neave.
A/Sgt Harry K Clayton (701) was an RAF interpreter working at Blois who was going on leave and heading for Lille when he was diverted towards Aumale. His car was put out of action by anti-tank fire and he was wounded and captured near Abbeville on 2 May 1940. After various camps in France, he was sent by lorry to Belgium and then by train to a camp attached to Oflag XIIB at Mainz in Germany, arriving 14 June.
Clayton and two French soldiers escaped from Oflag XIIB on 31 July 1940, leaving the store where they were working and changing into civilian clothing. They made their way through the Seigfreid Line and jumped a goods train which took them to Luxembourg. Clayton then stole a scythe and pitchfork and walked to his home near Lille, arriving there on 19 August. After recovering from his exhaustion and a touch of blood poisoning, he set about getting himself to England and in the course of his enquiries, met Captain Charles Murchie. Murchie was an evader who had been organising the escape of fellow soldiers to the south and Clayton joined him. In October 1940 they left for Marseille themselves and continued their escape line work with the organisation they found there until April 1941, when they both left for Spain. They were arrested near Figueras and held in various prisons, including six months at Castillo Montjuic in Barcelona charged with espionage, before finally being released from Miranda in February 1942.
F/Sgt James Atterby McCairns (717) was flying Spitfire P8500 when he was shot down and captured. I don't have a copy of his MI9 report but McCairns escaped from Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza) in January 1942 and was brought back by the Belgian Comete escape line.
Dvr William C Bach (780) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He and other ORs were marched for three weeks across France to Holland and then taken up the Rhine to Germany. In July Bach was sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland where, having been educated in Switzerland, he was employed as an interpreter and translator. In May 1941 Bach was moved to Stalag IIID near Berlin and a month later to Stalag IIID(a) at Schoenenberg. After establishing a regular routine of leaving the camp to go about his duties as an interpreter, Bach walked out of Schoenenberg for the last time on 31 October 1941. He took a series of local trams to the Anhalter Bahnhof and caught a train to Stuttgart where he changed for Lorrach. From here Bach used his local knowledge, plus information from a Belgian POW who knew the area even better, to take a circular route to Grenzach and cross the border to Basle. From Basle he took the first train to Zurich and then to Islikon where his uncle lived. He contacted the Swiss police from his uncle's house and was allowed to stay there until (what he refers to as) his repatriation. Actually Bach left Switzerland with Barry O'Sullivan (637) and they were helped by the Pat O'Leary organisation in France, sheltered with Louis Nouveau in Marseille (they arrived there about 27 April 1942) and smuggled across the Pyrenees to Spain.
Pte David R Edwards (781) and Pte David Lang (782) were captured (separately) on 1 June 1941 following the surrender on Crete. They were sent to Stalag VIIB (Moosburg) in August. As ORs they had to join various work parties from the camp and in October they joined the same Arbeitskommando working on the railway lines in western Munich. During their time there they acquired the equipment they would need for their escape, including warm civilian clothing and a map. On 30 March 1942 they escaped from the kommando and hid until the early hours when they returned to the railway yard and found a train labelled for Linden and St Margrethen. They secured themselves underneath the first carriage and after some shunting of wagons, the train finally left Munich station at 07.30. Seven hours later they arrived at St Margrethen in Switzerland where one of the men was spotted by a Swiss railway worker. The local police took them to a hotel where they had a much needed bath before spending the night in the cells. On 9 April they were handed over to the British Legation.
Lang left Switzerland 30 April 1942 on instructions from Victor Farrell and as shown above, travelled with Cpl Parker (and joined in Nimes by Edwards) to be taken across France and the Pyrenees to the British Consulate in Barcelona by the Pat O'Leary escape line.
Edwards left Switzerland with an unnamed Belgian officer on 6 May 1942. They were driven to the French border in a Swiss staff car, and walked to Annemasse from where a married couple took them by train to Marseille. They were handed over to Mario Prassinos and the following morning (8 May) Pat O'Leary took Edwards to Nimes where he joined Lang and Parker. On 21 May, all three escapers were taken by train to Toulouse and then on to Osseja (a classic Ponzan-Vidal route). That night (22 May) they joined two others and a guide to walk overnight across the Pyrenees to Spain where they caught a train to Barcelona and the British Consulate.
S/Ldr Brian Paddon (805) was the pilot of Blenheim L8827 which was lost on an operation to Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 6 June 1940. The crew were captured and Paddon wound up at Colditz. I don't have a copy of his MI9 report but Paddon was sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in June 1942 for a court martial, promptly escaped and made his way to Sweden.
Pte William MacFarlane (821) was captured at Abbeville on 6 June 1940 when his company of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were surrounded by German troops and forced to surrender. He was marched into Germany and put on a barge to be taken up the Rhine and a holding camp before going on to Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza). He was soon working on Arbeitskommando 1116 in a quarry supplying chalk for the cement factory at nearby Steudnitz. In September 1941 he was transferred to AK-147, the salt mines at Unterbreizbach, where he worked in the turning shop ...
Pte James M L Goldie (840) was in the same company as MacFarlane. He was serving with the Bren carriers which were sent out from Battalion Headquarters to assist C Company when he was captured. He stayed with MacFarlane when they were sent to Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza), AK-1116 at Steudnitz and then in September 1941, to the salt mines at Unterbreizbach, where Goldie worked underground ...
MacFarlane and Goldie escaped from Unterbreizbach on 21 March 1942. MacFarlane was on an earlier shift than Goldie and he used a jemmy that he'd made in the turning shop to break the lock on one of the camp's outer gates. When Goldie came off shift at ten o'clock that evening, the two men broke out their quarters and left the camp. They walked by night and slept in the woods for the next six days until they reached Gerstungen. They went to rail yards and broke into a wagon loaded with salt and destined for Hasselt in Belgium. They arrived in Hasselt six days later, suffering badly of thirst. They waited another day (the early hours of 4 April) before leaving the wagon and walking to Tirlemont (sic). They went on to Kessel-Lo where they asked at a house for water to make tea. Next day they were taken into Louvain by bicycle and handed over to a Belgian organisation. This was the Comete escape line which took the two men through France and across the Pyrenees to Spain, MacFarlane in July and Goldie in August.
Sgt John Prendergast (865) was serving with the 1 Bn The Welch Regiment and was (I believe) captured on Crete. I don't have a copy of his MI9 file with details of his capture but his escape from Stalag IIID near Wustermark, Berlin is briefly described by fellow escaper Sgt John Bryan (LIB/1729) ...
On 30 April 1942, Bryan and Prendergast cut their way through the wire of their camp and made their way to the railway junction at Wustermark where they jumped a goods train to Belgium. Unfortunately, on arrival at Antwerp, they were seen and the two men parted company - Bryan got as far as Dijon before being recaptured.
The next news I have for Prendergast finds him being sheltered in Paris with a Frenchman known as Antony (query) who, after making contact with a Greek from Nimes who was subsequently arrested, took Prendergast to Nimes himself. He says he was met by a British captain called John Dennis (presumably a pseudonym) who took him to Marseille. Prendergast says he stayed two hours at Joseph's flat - he is recorded at Louis Nouveau's apartment where he probably met Pat O'Leary (aka Joseph Cartier) - before being taken to Toulouse and the Hotel de Paris. Prendergast crossed the Pyrenees from Banyuls-sur-Mer with a group of escapers and evaders, led by two guides from the Ponzan-Vidal organisation, on a four-day walk, crossing the frontier on 11 June. Their guides left them near Figueras after giving them money and directions to Gerona along with instructions on how to get a train to Barcelona but they were arrested by Spanish police and spent the next few weeks in a variety of Spanish prisons before being released to British control. Prendergast finally left Gibraltar by air for the UK on 26 September 1942.
Sgt Derrick D W Nabarro (891) was second pilot of Whitley Z6561 when he was shot down over the Baltic on 29 June 1941 returning from Bremen. The crew were picked up by a German minesweeper and after a short time at Dulag Luft (the air force transit camp and Luftwaffe interrogation centre at Oberursel, near Frankfurt) Nabarro was sent to Stalag IXC at Bad Sulza on about 15 July. At his third attempt, Nabarro and a German speaking Belgian called Godfrei escaped from Bad Sulza on 25 November 1941 by simply walking out of the main gate on a pretence and not returning. They took the local train to Berlin and then a series of trains towards the Luxembourg border until being caught at Gerolstein. They were held overnight in a police station with an escaped French POW but they all escaped next day after overpowering their guard. They continued on foot to Luxembourg and then by train to Belgium where Godfrei took them to his home near Libramont. Next day Nabarro and the Frenchman took a series of trains (apart from crossing the 'red line' on foot) to Paris. After failing to find an English friend that he believed was being held at Rouen, Nabarro returned to Paris before going to Nevers to find the Frenchman he'd met at Gerolstein. He told Nabarro how to cross the demarcation line into Vichy France but he was caught south of Nevers by German troops. Nabarro told them he was trying to go north into the Occupied Zone so they sent him south to Unoccupied France where he was promptly arrested by the French police. After interrogation by French Air Force personnel at Toulouse, Nabarro was sent to join the other British detainees at Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort in December and transferred with them to Fort de la Rivère, on the hills above Monte Carlo, on 17 March 1942.
Nabarro and four other airmen (Barnett, Hawkins, Higginson and Hickton) escaped from Fort de la Rivère on 23 August 1942. The escape was organised with help from agents from the Pat Line (including a local police officer) who took them into Monte Carlo where they were sheltered for two weeks before moving to Marseille. Nabarro and Barnett stayed with Dr Georges Rodocanachi while the other three stayed with Louis Nouveau until they could be brought to Canet Plage near Perpignan. Nabarro and thirty-two other military escapers and evaders were picked from the beach at Canet Plage by the felucca Seawolf on the night of 21/22 September. Two nights later they were transferred to the escort vessel HMS Minna and delivered to Gibraltar.
For more details of Nabarro's story see 'Wait for the Dawn' by Derrick Nabarro.
Pte R Berry (931) was captured at Dunkirk on 1 June 1940. He was sent via Belgium and Holland to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf. After five weeks at the camp he was sent on a work party to a coal mine at Hindenburg, near Beuthen.
In the early hours of 10 March 1941, Berry escaped from Hindenburg with Pte Alfred J Bloom (see below). They walked a few miles from the camp before hiding up for the rest of the day. That night they boarded an east-bound train which took them to the outskirts of Cracow. With the help of various Polish contacts, the two men made their way to the border with Russian occupied Poland, but on swimming the river San, Berry lost contact with Bloom (although Bloom says they were arrested together). Berry reported to the Russian authorities who held him at a prison at Przemysl where one of the Polish prisoners told Berry that Bloom was also held but they didn't meet. On 22 June, following the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and Russia, the Germans attacked the town and the prisoners were moved to Sambor. Again Berry was told that Bloom (and Cpl Stanley Jowell) were in the same prison, but again they didn't meet. A few days later, Berry and the other prisoners (Poles, Russians, Jews and Ukrainians) were taken on three week rail journey to the Ural mountains where he was held at Ziatoust prison, mostly in solitary confinement, until March 1942.
On 5 March, Berry was moved to a prison at Chelyarbinsk where he remained until 11 August when he was moved Kuibyshev. He was held in the prison there until 25 August when he was driven to the British Embassy, which had relocated to Kuibyshev from Moscow in October 1941 following the German invasion. I don't know how Berry got back to the UK (probably via Archangel like Yeowell below) but he was interviewed by MI9 in London on 21 October 1942.
Pte Alfred J Bloom (3098) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940 and sent to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf. On 10 March 1941, Bloom escaped from the coal mine near Hindenburg with Pte Berry (see above).
After crossing the river San, Bloom was arrested and sent to Przemysl where he was separated from Berry. In June, Bloom was moved to a prison at Sambor and escaped from there a few nights later. He was sheltered in Sambor (first in a convent and then with an American girl) until November 1941 when the American girl arranged to have him sent to Przeworsk where he joined the Polish Home Army. Bloom was recaptured by the Russians in January 1945 but escaped back to Lancut where he rejoined the Polish partisans until going to the British Embassy in Warsaw. Bloom was flown back to the UK in October 1945 and interviewed by MI9 in London on 23 November.
Rfmn S W Yeowell (945) was captured at Calais on 26 May 1940. After being marched through France, Belgium and Holland he was sent to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf, arriving 26 June. Three weeks later he was moved to an Arbeitslager at Laband, near the Polish border, where the POWs worked building factories.
Yeowell escaped from Laband on 21 November 1940 using papers and clothes supplied by one of the Polish civilian workers, and was taken by other Poles and sheltered for five days at Katowice. He was then moved to Chrzanow where he stayed with a Polish family for five months before being taken to Cracow (Krakow) in March 1941. In early May, his Polish hosts helped him to cross the river San near Sanok to Russian occupied Poland where he was arrested. After a few days, Yeowell was sent to a prison in Sambor and then to Kiev and then, on 22 June 1941, to Buturka prison in Moscow. When Moscow was evacuated in October 1941, Yeowell was sent to a prison in Saratov and it wasn't until May 1942 that Yeowell was finally interviewed. In September Yeowell was taken to Kuibishev and on 26 September, delivered to the British Embassy. Yeowell left Kuibishev on 4 October 1942, travelling via Moscow to Archangel from where he was returned to the UK. Yeowell was interviewed by MI9 in London on 30 October 1942.
Sgt Alexis E Stadnik (946) and Sgt Peotr K Pinchuk (979) of the Russian Air Force were shot down over Berlin in the early hours of 13 September 1942. Both men baled out, landed east of the city and were captured the same day. They were sent to an unknown camp in Saxony for Russian POWs. During the night of 16/17 September they escaped the camp by simply climbing two barbed wire fences. They walked west until 21 September when they found they were in northern Belgium and went to a house for help. Using mostly sign-language, they received food and the advice to head south. They continued walking until they reached a farm near Namur where a Polish speaking Belgian woman sheltered them and put them in touch with an organisation. Stadnick and Pinchuk were taken over by the Belgian Comete escape line and guided across the Pyrenees to San Sebastian : Stadnick with Joyce (see below) Mellor and Kropf the night of 17/18 October, and Pinchuk with Arkwright, Coombe-Tennant and Fuller (see below) the night of 23/24 October 1942.
Sgt Michael J Joyce (947) is a strange one, and probably shouldn't be included here. He was air gunner of Hampden P4324 which force-landed on the Dutch island of Vlieland the night of 26/27 August 1940 returning from Leipzig. The whole crew were captured and taken to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. Joyce says he stayed at Dulag Luft until early 1942 when he was taken to a hospital at Kloster Haina. His MI9 report says that he subsequently escaped from a farm at Kaisersech but this story has since been amended. It is believed that the Irish born Joyce, a cousin of William Joyce, was recruited by the Abwehr and released to try and infiltrate one of the escape lines in this case presumably the Belgian Comete organisation. Joyce's MI9 report says he was taken to Liege where he met RAF evader F/Sgt Gordon Mellor (951) with whom he travelled to Paris. They were joined by P/O Lorn Kropf (950) and Sgt Alexis Stadnik (946) and the four men were taken across the Pyrenees from St Jean de Luz on 18 October 1942.
Major A S B Arkwright (974) was captured near St Eloi in Belgium on 28 May 1940. After three days in a hospital in Courtrai he was marched into Aachen in a column of POWs. He was then taken by train via transit camps at Meppen and Dortmund to Oflag VIIC (Laufen). In October 1941 he was moved to Oflag VIB (Warburg) ...
Capt A Henry S Coombe-Tennant (975) was captured at Outreau, a suburb of Boulogne, on 25 May 1940. He was marched to Montreuil then taken by lorry to Beauraing in Belgium and then by train to a Dulags at Trier and Mainz in Germany. On 10 June he was sent to Oflag VIIC (Laufen) and on 11 October 1941 moved to Oflag VIB (Warburg) ...
Capt Rupert J Fuller (976) was captured at Poperinghe in Belgium on 29 May 1940. He was marched to Aachen then taken by train via Meppen and Dortmund to Oflag VIIC (Laufen) arriving there 19 June 1940. In October 1941 he was moved to Stalag VIB (Warburg) ...
Arkwright, Coombe-Tennant and Fuller were three of the twenty-nine men who escaped from Warburg on the night of 30/31 August 1942. After fusing the electricity system to the camp's perimeter wire, four teams of prisoners rushed the fence simultaneously. Twelve were caught within the camp area and another fourteen within a few days but Arkwright, Coombe-Tennant and Fuller, who were the first three over the wire in their team of ten, got away. They stayed together, walking only at night and sleeping during the day, finally crossing the border into Holland near Denecamp on 14 September. They were soon found by a Dutch child who reported them to a farmer. After convincing the farmer that they were British, they were allowed to shelter in a barn and food was brought to them. After nine days in the barn, a Dutchman named Cleyndert drove them to Rossum near Oldenzaal. Cleyndert was used to helping Frenchmen escape from Germany and they stayed seventeen days with him before they were taken by train to Weert and the Belgian border at Stramproy. They crossed into Belgium with two French escapers and walked towards Tongerloo where they were intercepted by a Belgian farmer who wanted to know if they were English. They were all sheltered locally for the night. The two Frenchmen left next morning and that evening, the three soldiers were collected and taken by bicycle to Maasseik. Next day they were moved to a farm near Rotem and then by stages to Brussels where they joined the Belgian Comete escape line. The three men were taken across the Pyrenees to Spain on 19 October and were flown from Gibraltar to Bristol the night of 6/7 November 1942.
F/Lt Hedley N Fowler (994) was pilot of Hurricane P2622 when he was shot down 15 May 1940 near Fumay, just over the Belgian border. He was captured next day by a German armoured unit and driven to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. On 5 June Fowler and nineteen other officers was sent to Oflag IIA (Prenzlau) a Polish camp near Stettin. On 5 July he was transferred to Stalag Luft I (Barth) on the Baltic coast. Following his first escape on 5 November, when he got at far as the docks at Sassnitz in an attempt to stow away on a boat to Sweden, Fowler was sent to Oflag IVC at Colditz on 1 December 1941.
At Colditz, Fowler joined Lt Geoffrey Wardle RN, Capt Lawton and three Dutch officers, Lt/Cdr Van Doornick, Lt Donkers and Lt Bates, in a scheme to dig a tunnel from the Stabsfeldwebel's office to a clothing store. They planned to enter the store at night and leave in disguise the following morning. With Donkers dressed as a German officer, Van Doornick as an NCO with the other four as a Polish work party, the six officers duly marched out of Colditz Castle early on the morning of 9 September 1942.
They marched to the nearby woods where they destroyed their uniforms and donned civilian clothes. Then they split into three Anglo-Dutch pairs, Fowler going with Van Doornick and heading for Switzerland via Stuttgart. Fowler and Van Doornick walked the 31 kms south to Penig where they caught a train to Plauen and then later that evening, another train to Stuttgart where they stayed overnight at a hotel. Next day they went on to Tuttlingen and walked the final 25 or so kilometres to the Swiss border, crossing near Ramsen in the early hours of 13 September. After a few days of questioning by the Swiss, the two escapers were sent to Berne where they reported to their respective Legations. Fowler later learned that the other four escapers had been caught a few miles from the camp.
In October 1942, Patrick Reid, Howard Wardle, William Stephens and Ronald Littledale arrived in Berne from Colditz (see below) and on 25 January 1943, Fowler left Switzerland for Spain with Littledale ...
Capt Patrick R Reid (995) was captured with his RASC until near Cassel on 27 May 1940 ...
F/Lt Howard D Wardle (996) was flying Fairey Battle P2201 when he was shot down near Kreilsheim, Germany on 20 April 1940. Wardle baled out and was captured soon after landing but Sgt Edward Davidson and AC1 Albert Bailey from this aircraft were killed. Wardle was first taken to Crailsheim and then Dulag Luft before transfer to Oflag IXA (Spangenberg). Wardle was sent to Oflag IVC at Colditz Castle in November 1940 ...
Lt-Cdr William L Stephens RNVR (997) was commanding HMML 192 when she was sunk at St Nazaire on 28 March 1942. Stephens and his crew were captured immediately and along with the other prisoners from St Nazaire, sent to Stalag 133 at Rennes. In April, Stephens was sent to the Naval POW camp of Milag Nord (for Merchant Seaman) and then to Marlag (for Royal Naval personnel) at Westertimke near Bremen. On 25 June Stephens was moved to a camp which was still under construction at Bremervorde and on 24 July to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf. On 1 September Stephens was moved to Oflag IVC at Colditz Castle described by him as a special camp for escapers and other people troublesome to the Germans ...
Major Ronald B Littledale (998) was captured at Calais on 26 May 1940. He was a prisoner at Stalag VIIC (Laufen) from June 1940 to March 1941 when he was moved to Stalag XXID (Posen). Following two escapes, one from Posen in May 1941 (he was recaptured on 17 November) and the second in January 1942 from the train back from Vienna where he had been held for six weeks following his first escape, he was sent to Oflag IVC (Colditz) in July 1942 ...
On the night 14 October 1942, the four men escaped via a kitchen window which gave them access to a flat roof which led to the outer courtyard, then through the carpenter's store and down three levels of the old moat to a road which led out of the camp. Most of the route could not be reconnoitered in advance since it was brightly lit and easily seen by the German sentries. Distraction of the guards by other prisoners allowed the escapers to enter the kitchen and then they broke their way through the various barriers using tools either acquired or made in the camp. At five o'clock on the morning of 15 October the four escapers were outside the castle walls, at which point they split into two pairs.
Reid and Wardle walked east and south for a couple of hours before hiding up for the rest of the day. That night they crossed the Mulde river and hid up again during the day. Next morning they washed and shaved and made their way to Penig where they caught a train to Zwicklau and went to the cinema whilst waiting for their train to Munich. From Munich they went on to Tuttlingen where they left the station to sleep overnight in the nearby woods. They crossed the Swiss border near Ramsen at eight o'clock in the evening of 18 October.
Stephens and Littledale made their way due south to Rochlitz that morning where they caught a train to Chemnitz then a train to Stuttgart via Nuremberg (where they slept the night in a restaurant) arriving the morning of 16 October. From Stuttgart they took a circular route to Tuttlingen, arriving there at ten-thirty in the evening and spending the night in a nearby wood. Next morning they walked to Immendigen where they rested until nightfall when they moved further south to Engenwhere again they rested until the evening. They finally crossed the border near Ramsen at three o'clock in the morning of 20 October.
Ronald Littledale was the first of his group of four Colditz escapers to get back to England - he left Switzerland on 25 January 1943 with Hedley Fowler. They were sent to Geneva, given French identity cards and handed over to a Belgian known as Jacques. They were driven to the French border near Annemasse where they were joined by a French girl. They crossed over a stream where they were helped out of the water by a uniformed French customs official before Jacques led them to Annemasse village. After drying their clothes, Jacques and the French girl handed them over to a man in a skiing suit. They stayed overnight at his house and next morning, were taken to a garage. Their guide arranged for a car to take them to La Roche where they spent most of the rest of the day in a hotel, being joined there by their guide for lunch. That afternoon, the guide took them to the station where he gave them 100 francs each to buy tickets to Chambery where they changed for Perpignan. They reached Perpignan at nine o'clock on the morning of 27 January and were taken by tram to stay at the Hotel Sainte-Antoine. Next day, they had their photographs taken and on 29 January, their guide handed them on to a Spaniard. The Spaniard took them by bus to Elne where they were joined by a French boy called Albert Cortes, who said he was coming with them. They followed the railway line south and crossed over the river Tech by bridge before heading into the foothills where they rested for a while in a cave. They crossed the Spanish border at about six the next morning and by noon could see the main La Junquera to Figueras road. Their guide said that he wanted to take Cortes to his home at nearby Agullana and at about four o'clock that afternoon the two evaders and their guide (presumably after delivering Cortes to his home) were picked up patrolling Spanish soldiers. They spent a few unpleasant days in various Spanish gaols before being taken to the British Consulate in Barcelona. On 18 March, they were interned - Littledale at Jaraba and Fowler at Alhama de Aragon. Fowler left Gibraltar by air for Hendon on 27 March and Littledale left Lisbon by air for Whitchurch (Bristol) on 24 May 1943.
Howard Wardle left Switzerland on 9 December 1943 but although carefully typed, his report is so faded as to be almost illegible. After various false starts, he finally crossed the Pyrenees with a party of Dutchmen on about 18 December to Canejan - where they were all arrested. Wardle left Gibraltar by air for Whitchurch on 5 February 1944.
William Stephens was to have led a party (which included Lister - see below) out through France in January 1944 but he had a leg injury and Vic Farrell decided that he should delay his departure. He left Switzerland on 5 June 1944 with RAF evader Sgt Edwin Worsdale (2016) and their journey across France was organised by Françoise Dissard. They crossed the Pyrenees to Spain that month and are reported as held at Sort Prison on 16 June. Stephens and Worsdale left Gibraltar by air for Whitchurch on 10 July 1944.
I don't know when Reid came back to the UK but he is reported as working in the Military Attaché's office until at least January 1944.
Sgt P T Wareing (1018) was pilot of Spitfire K6966 when he was shot down 25 August 1940. He baled out just south of Calais and as he landed just a quarter of a mile from a German aerodrome, was captured immediately. Two days later he was taken to Dulag Luft at Oberursel where he stayed until about 8 September when he was transferred to Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) on the Baltic coast.
On 18 April 1942, the inmates at Barth were moved to the newly opened (and supposedly escape-proof) Stalag Luft III at Sagan in Silesia. At the end of October, Wareing volunteered to go as an orderly to Stalag XXIB (Schubin) because he'd heard it might be easier to escape from there. At Schubin, some men were allowed to go to the railway station to collect bread and coal and on 16 December, Wareing got on the duty roster. During a diversion at the station, Wareing (who had his escape kit with him) ran across the railway lines. After walking for a while, Wareing stole a bicycle and rode to Danzig. On 20 December, he boarded a Swedish ship bound for Halmsted and hid in the forward hold. After a two hour search by German troops, the ship left for Sweden the following morning - Wareing was discovered by a crewman two days later. At Halmsted he was handed over to the local police and slept at the police station until staff from the British Legation in Stockholm came to collect him three days later. Wareing left Stockholm by air for Leuchars in Scotland on 5 January 1943.
BOAC operated a courier service throughout the war from the RAF base at Leuchars (north of Edinburgh) to Bromma (Stockholm) with British and Norwegian crews. They used a variety of aircraft, including Hudsons, Lodestars and Dakotas, and unnarmed Liberators and Mosquitos. The Swedish company ABA also ran similar 'courier flights' but they landed at Dyce (Aberdeen) or Prestwick and were prohibited from carrying British passengers. For more details, see 'Blockade Runners, Sweden's lifeline in the Second World War' by Nilsson and Sandberg.
ERA Frederick W E Hammond (1023) was an engineer on HM Submarine Shark operating in the North Sea when she was sunk by enemy aircraft on 6 July 1940. The surviving crew were picked up by a German seaplane and taken to Stavanger in Norway. Hammond was sent to Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza) until February 1941, then to the Marlag at Sandbostel. He and Lister (1024) escaped from Sandbostel in April 1942 but were soon recaptured. He was sent Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in July and Oflag IVC (Colditz) in September before being returned to Lamsdorf in October 1942 ...
ERA Donald Lister (1024) was an engineer on HM Submarine Seal operating in the Kattegat when she was attacked by enemy aircraft and disabled on 6 May 1940. After interrogation at Kiel, Lister doesn't give many details in his and Hammond's joint MI9 interim report apart from listing being held at Stalag IVC (Wistritz bei Teplitz) in Czechoslovakia, Oflag IVC (Colditz) and Stalag XXA (Thorn) before moving to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in November 1942. He doesn't mention being at Sandbostel or escaping from there with Hammond.
Hammond and Lister escaped from a working party at the nearby Breslau Gas Works on 13 Dec 1942. At Colditz they had acquired papers describing them as Belgian labourers and these passed several close inspections during their journey. They took a tram to Breslau railway station where they caught the first of a series of trains that took them to Ulm (west of Munich) two days later. After a night in a hotel they continued on to Tuttlingen and then walked through Engen to Singen where they followed the Singen-Schaffhausen railway line to the Swiss frontier. They crossed over the border near Ramsen in the early hours of 18 December.
Hammond's departure from Switzerland was organised by Victor Farrell and on 2 November 1943, Francoise Dissard took him across the border to Annemasse where he spent the night with the captain of the French customs post. Next morning, the captain and a gendarme took Hammond to the station and put him on a train where he joined Francoise and they travelled first class to Toulouse. Hammond stayed in Francoise's apartment where he was joined by a French-Canadian travelling under the name of Patrick Gilbert. On 10 November, Francoise took Hammond and Gilbert by train to Perpignan (again travelling first class) where they waited in a park until evening when Hammond and Gilbert were handed over to a guide. They set off across the Pyrenees that evening (11 November) and crossed the frontier at about five o'clock the following morning. Their guide left them just over the border and they walked on to Agullana where Hammond posted a letter to the British Consulate in Barcelona before reporting (as advised) to the Spanish police. They were taken to Figueras then Gerona and on 18 December, to Miranda where Hammond was held until 21 January 1944 before being released and sent to the the British Embassy in Madrid.
Lister's departure was also arranged by Victor Farrell and he left with a party of aircrew led by S/Ldr Fletcher Taylor (1787) - the others being Sgt Richard Brown (1782) Sgt Stanley Eyre (1783) F/Lt George Lambert (1785) F/Sgt Hugh Colhoun (1786) and 2/Lts Ralph Bruce and 2/Lt John Carah USAAF - all of whom had evaded to Switzerland from their downed aircraft. They left Geneva on 8 January 1944, led by a French French guide who took them across the frontier at Sorel and on to Viry where they were picked up by lorry and driven to Frangy. They were sheltered in Frangy by Mme Marguerite Avons and a M Blanc (assumed as an alias, he was also known as Lambert). They were told that the organisation in Perpignan was having problems and so there was a delay while M Blanc went first to Perpignan and then Lyons and back to Perpignan. They finally left Frangy on 26 January, accompnied by Mme Avons' son Serge. They took a taxi to Pyrimont and then trains to Culoz, Lyon and Perpignan where they arrived next day. They were sheltered in two groups, both hosted by French women school-teachers until the evening of 29 January when they set off across the mountains with two Spanish guides. They crossed the frontier on the night of 30/31 January and walked about half way to Figueras the next night, supplied with food by a man who also went ahead to make arrangements with the British Consulate in Barcelona. They spent the evening of 2 February in a hayloft south of Figueras and the following evening, were taken in two parties, by train to Barcelona.
Cpl Thomas M'Grath (1189) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 11 June 1940. He and other ORs were marched across France to Holland where they were put on barges and taken up the Rhine to Germany. After a couple of days in a transit camp, he was sent by rail to Stalag XXA(3A) at Thorn in Poland.
M'Grath escaped from Stalag XXA(3A) on 9 March 1942 by joining a working party that routinely visited the Kommandantur outside the camp for supplies and simply walking away. He was sheltered for the first four days by an elderly Pole who hid him in his attic before taking him into the town of Thorn where a Polish woman sheltered him for the next few months. At the beginning of June another Pole took M'Grath by train to Berlin where he was sheltered until August. His Polish hosts acquired papers for M'Grath, including special pass issued to a French worker going home on leave to Dijon. They got him a train ticket to Paris and introduced him to a Frenchman taking the same journey. M'Grath and his French companion duly reached Paris on about 9 August where M'Grath was met by a Pole who arranged his accommodation. M'Grath stayed in Paris until 9 December when he and his Polish host took a train to St Jean de Luz where he was handed over to a Basque guide. The Basque took M'Grath into the Pyrenees to the Spanish border where he was left to make his own way down. He walked into the village of Vera de Bidassoa where he was arrested and sent to the Spanish concentration camp at Miranda del Ebro. On 14 April 1943 M'Grath was released from Miranda and repatriated via Madrid to Gibraltar.
Premier Maitre Andre Desgranges (1296) of the Fighting Free French Navy was wounded and captured near Port-en-Bessin in Normandy on 13 September 1942. After interrogation by the Gestapo in Rouen, he was taken to Wilhelmshaven on about 20 October. He was held in an old school building that was converted for use as a prison and kept in chains until the middle of November. Desgranges escaped from his second-floor room the night of 19/20 November and, walking at night and resting through the day, reached Holland on 27 November. He continued on to Belgium where he caught a train across the French border, getting off near St Quentin. At St Quentin Desgranges was given enough money to buy a train ticket to Paris where he went to the home of a relative. He stayed in Paris until 7 March when he took a train for Bayonne. He left the train at Cambo-les-Bains where he stayed overnight in a hotel and met two more Frenchmen anxious to leave the country. They managed to find a Spanish guide who they paid to take them over the border. They crossed from Itxassou into Spain on 9 March 1943 and walked to Arizeun where they were arrested. On 30 May, Desgranges was sent to Miranda where he stayed until 8 June when he was repatriated to Setubal in Portugal. From Portugal, Desgranges went by sea to Casablanca then Mediouna before flying to Algiers and on 4 July, via Fez to Gibraltar.
Andre Desgranges was one of the few survivors from the disasterous SSRF Operation Aquatint, an eleven-man raid aimed at the Normandy coast with a view to capture prisoners, gather intelligence and to generally raise hell among the occupying Germans. They disembarked from MTB 344 (Bourne) but weather conditions resulted in them landing at the wrong place and they soon ran into overwhelming opposition. See 'Small Scale Raiding Force' by Brian Lett for more details - along with evidence that Degranges did not so much escape and was set free by the Germans as a potential double-agent ...
Sgt Charles E McDonald (1316) was pilot of Spitfire R7279 on an escort mission to France when he was shot down 21 August 1941. McDonald baled out and landed a few miles north-west of Lille and was captured that afternoon by a German patrol. After a month in hospital at Lille where his burns were treated, he was taken to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. On 24 September McDonald was sent to Stalag Luft VIIIB (Lamsdorf). In April 1942, McDonald and most of the other RAF prisoners were moved to Stalag Luft III (Sagan). McDonald soon decided that escaping from Sagan was next to impossible and so volunteered to be returned to Lamsdorf in July 1942. Consultation with RSM Sherriff resulted in McDonald being sent on a working party to Gleiwitz as that seemed to be the most promising place to escape from. McDonald duly escaped from his hut at Gleiwitz on the night of 11/12 August 1942, along with P/O Kenneth Chisholm (see below) Sgt Geoffrey Patrick Hickman RAFVR and Edwin Carter, a Polish Jew known as Nick who was serving with the British Army ...
P/O Kenneth B Chisholm (2245) was shot down on a fighter SWEEP on 12 October 1941 and baled out into the sea off Berck-sur-Mer. He was picked up by a German rescue boat and sent to St Omer. After time at Dulag Luft, he was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) at the end the month. In June 1942 Chisholm and Sgt Pilot Stewart exchanged identities with two soldiers and subsequently escaped from a working party Freudental, getting as far as Brno in Czechoslovakia before being recaptured. On his return to Lamsdorf, Chisholm was sent to the hospital where he met Douglas Bader and F/Lt John Palmer and they devised a scheme whereby they would exchange identities with Army ORs and join a party working at Gleiwitz aerodrome and try to steal an aeroplane. They also included Edwin (Nick) Parker because of his knowledge of languages. They got as far as the aerodrome, where Bader worked as an orderly, but suspicions of Bader's escape led to all work parties being checked for his whereabouts and they were soon discovered. It was at Gleiwitz that Chisholm met McDonald ...
The four men walked to Katowice where Nick was able to find them shelter on a farm until mid-September when they were taken into territory of the General Government of Poland. They then walked to Krakow, arriving 17 October, where they were sheltered for a week until L/Cpl Ronald Jeffery (1822) arrived to take them to Warsaw. They stayed at various addresses in Warsaw until 23 March 1943 when McDonald, along with British soldiers Pte John Grant and Dvr George Newton (see below) were taken by train to Paris where McDonald stayed for another month.
Dvr George Newton RASC (3027) was captured at Amiens on 20 May 1940. Newton was held at Stalag XXIB (Schubin) until August when he was moved to a work camp at Leslau. On 6 April 1941, Newton escaped from Leslau with Pvt John Grant and Dvr Thomas Potts. They made their way to Warsaw, arriving 12 May, where Newton and Grant stayed until 23 March 1943 when they left for Paris with Sgt MacDonald.
While McDonald stayed in Paris, Newton and Grant were taken to Lyons then Toulouse, Perpignan and the Pyrenees but were arrested the night of 31 May (along with five airmen) trying to cross the mountains. After several months at Fresnes, they were sent to Stalag VIIIB in October 1943. Newton escaped from a work camp at Ragesfeld in April 1944 and went back to Warsaw. He was captured by Russian forces in January 1945 and finally liberated with other Allied prisoners at Kutno. Click here to read George Newton's own version of events.
Chisholm stayed in Warsaw until March 1944 when he left for Brussels with Dutch Lt Kruimink. On 10 May 1944, Chisholm and Kruimink went to Paris where they stayed until the liberation. Sgt Hickman also stayed in Warsaw but is reported by Chisholm to have been arrested on 10 December 1943 and believed shot.
The next mention I have for McDonald comes from Sgt Jack Luehrs USAAF (#40) who reports meeting McDonald at Etaples in Brittany. This was the Oaktree escape line and McDonald and Luehrs were with a group of evaders hoping to be taken to England by Royal Navy MGB. This scheme fell through and the party were taken back to Paris and then on to Pau. McDonald was with a group of evaders taken across the Pyrenees to Isaba at the beginning of June 1943.
Cpl John Vincent Byrne (1355) was serving with 1 SAS Brigade when he was captured on 27 March 1942 returning from a raid near Benghazi. After a series of German and Italian prisons in north Africa, Byrne was flown to Greece via Crete and then taken by train to Vienna and on to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. He arrived there on 18 April and was immediately admitted to hospital. On 23 April Byrne was sent to Stalag Luft III (Sagan). Byrne stayed at Sagan until September when Byrne (like Sgt Wareing above) volunteered to become an officer's servant and be transferred with them to Oflag XXIB (Schubin) where escape might be easier.
After his second failed escape attempt from Schubin, Byrne was returned to Stalag Luft III despite his protests that as a soldier he should be in an Army camp. In June 1943 most of the British NCOs left Sagan for Stalag Luft VI (Heydekrug) and on 15 July Byrne and five other prisoners left by train to join them. They stopped off at a transit camp at Koenigsberg and on 17 July Byrne escaped through a latrine drain into the Russian compound and over a wire fence to the road outside the camp. He hid under a metal bin until dark and then walked into Koenigsberg where he spent the rest of the night in an empty railway wagon. Next morning he made his way to the docks, mixing with a party of French workmen who offered to smuggle him aboard a train to France. Byrne already knew that Sgt Wareing had escaped via Danzig to Sweden from aircrew at Sagan who had been lectured on E&E by Wareing on his return to England so he simply asked his new French friends for some civilian clothes to go over his uniform. Next day Byrne stole a bicycle and rode to Danzig. He managed to smuggle himself aboard a Swedish ship where he hid in the coal bunker until the ship sailed two days later. Some hours after leaving port, Byrne came out of hiding and declared himself to the crew. The captain of the ship congratulated him on his escape, had him fed and clothed and next day they arrived at Goteborg. Byrne was handed over to the Swedish police who sent him to Stockholm that evening. Byrne left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 14/15 August 1943.
BSM Angus Paton (1354) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. Like so many others, Paton was marched through France to Holland and taken into Germany by barge and then by rail the Stalag XXA at Thorn in Poland ...
Pte Leonard Green (1362) was on an ambulance train near Boulogne when it was attacked by German tanks on 22 May 1940. The train was abandoned and Green joined an injured comrade in an ambulance convoy when they ran into German troops and were forced to surrender. He was marched into Luxembourg then taken by rail to Stalag XXA at Thorn ...
In October 1942 Green was moved to a work kommando at 35/2 Graudenz where he met BSM Paton and in February 1943 they decided to escape together. At that time Paton was the senior NCO at 35/2 and Green was the camp's interpreter. On the evening of 7 June 1943 the two men climbed out the window of their hut and through the wire surrounding their compound, then they simply walked past the single guard at the main gate. They met one of their Polish helpers who took them into Thorn for the night. Next morning their helper took them by train to Gydnia where their next contact failed to appear. Their helper from Thorn had to return but the two escapers managed to find another address in Gydnia they'd been given. On 10 June they took a train back to Thorn where they caught another train to Lodz, where they were sheltered for the night. They spent the next few days taking trains between Gydnia and Danzig until 15 June when they finally met a Swedish skipper at Gydnia who was willing to help them. Next day they boarded a Swedish ship without incident. A member of the ship's crew hid them for three days before the ship finally sailed and then they waited until the ship was safely in Swedish waters before meeting the captain. They arrived in Stockholm on 22 June and were handed over to the Swedish police who questioned them briefly before passing them over to the British Legation. Paton left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 11/12 August and Green on 17 August 1943.
Pte Ellis Phythian (1393) was wounded and captured with his platoon near Tournai in Belgium on 19 May 1940. After a few days in hospital at Louvain, he was sent to a Jesuit Monastery at Maastricht to convalesce. In September he was moved to Germany and at the end of the year to an Arbeitskommando in the Black Forest. In March 1941 he was transferred to a work party attached to Stalag XXIC/H (Gilgenhof) in Poland and in March 1942 to a work party attached to Stalag XXID (Posen) at Fort Grollman.
On 31 March 1943, Phythian changed places with his friend Pte Douglas Lamb on a working party digging drains in Posen. Shortly after starting work that morning, Phythian went to the lavatory where he changed into civilian clothes and walked to the railway station. He was to have met Sgt Butterworth there, who had planned the escape in the first place and had all their supplies but Butterworth failed to appear. Later that day Phythian hopped a goods train which he finally left four days later at Nancy in Lorraine.
From Nancy, Phythian started walking towards Paris, getting as far as Soude-Ste-Croix before he was helped and put in touch with an organisation. His report simply says his journey was arranged, that he crossed into Spain with Sgt Jones (1357) and Sgt Alderdice (1358) and that they arrived at Bielsa on 2 July 1943. The two RAF sergeants were aircrew evaders from Halifax DT690 (lost the night of 16/17 April 1943) and they report meeting Phythian in Toulouse and leaving the city with him on 26 June. They were taken via Tarbes to Pau and on to Luz-Saint-Sauveur to cross the Pyrenees, reaching Bielsa on 2 July where they were arrested. After several weeks in various Spanish prisons, Phythian was released from Miranda-del-Ebro on 16 August 1943 and left Gibraltar by sea for Gourock at the end of the month.
Sgt Jacques A E M Mouhot (1394) of 1 Cie de Parachutistes (FFI) was attached to the SAS Brigade and sent on a special mission to Crete (presumably the raid of Heraklion airfield) under Cmdt Bergé and Capt Jellicoe. Having completed their mission, Mouhot was captured by German troops on 19 June 1942 along with Bergé and another man named Sibard. After several weeks of interrogation at Heraklion, the three men were sent to Germany and held in solitary confinement at Dulag Luft. In July, Mouhot and Bergé were sent to Oflag XC at Lubeck. In March 1943, following his third escape (one from Dulag Luft and two from Lubeck) and subsequent capture near the Dutch border, Mouhot told his captors he was a French POW with the result that he was sent to nearby Stalag VIC (Bathorn) in Holland. On 20 March 1943 the Senior French Officer in the camp put Mouhot on a work party in the local rail yard where he and a man called Grandemanche promptly escaped. They made their way to an address in Hengelo that they'd been given at the camp and where an organisation took them over. They were taken by train to Maastricht and crossed the border into Belgium on foot. They continued on to Mauberge in France and nearby Ferriere-la-Grande where Mouhot had friends. Next day Mouhot took the train to Paris where he stayed in cheap hotels for a few days before moving to his sister's house. Mouhot was given an address in Toulouse where he might find help in getting out of the country. He went to this conveniently forgotten address in July where further contacts were made to take him to Foix and Tarascon and across the Pyrenees to Ordino in Andorra. From Andorra, Mouhot was driven to the British Consulate in Barcelona, where he stayed two weeks before going on to Madrid and Gibraltar. Mouhot left Gibraltar by air for Bristol on 10 September 1943.
Lt Vasily I Nekrasov (1405) was captured near Gomel in Belarus on 14 October 1942 whilst serving with a Russian Tank company. He was taken to a POW camp at Duisberg in Germany and held in what he describes as "special discipline camp" just south-east of the town. Nekrasov escaped from Duisberg on 21 January 1943 during an Allied air raid. He made his way to Holland where he was helped and then taken across the border into Belgium (arriving 2 February) and put in touch with an organisation which arranged his subsequent journey. The Belgian Comete escape line took Nekrasov across the Pyrenees to Spain in August 1943. Note there is an amendment page to Nekrasov's MI9 report which says that, after consultation with the Russian authorities, it transpired that Nekrasov was not an officer but a private soldier in the Russian Army.
F/Sgt James P Dowd (1421) was the radio operator of Manchester L7423 which was shot down near Nijmegan the night of 13/14 March 1942 - only Dowd and pilot P/O J L Bromiley, survived. Dowd landed near the Dutch-German border and thinking he was in Holland, approached two men, one of whom took him back to his house and gave him a cup of coffee. Shortly afterwards, two German policemen arrived. Dowd (and a PRU pilot named McDonald) were taken via Amsterdam to Dulag Luft and then, on 17 April, to Stalag VIIB (Lamsdorf). On 22 June 1943, after three failed escape attempts, Dowd was sent to Arbeitskommando E.488 at Grottkau in Poland.
Dowd escaped from Grottkau on the evening of 29 August 1943, walking out of his billet while his guard was having supper. He joined L/Sgt Alexander Todd Wood (Gordon Highlanders) who had escaped three days earlier and was being sheltered locally by a German woman, and they took a train to Brieg where they separated, Todd Wood heading for Oderburg in Czechoslovakia where he hoped a Czech woman would help him. Dowd took another train to Breslau and then on to Frankfurt an der Oder, where he had a wash and bought some breakfast in the station waiting room, before taking a train to Eberswalde. After coffee (and some biscuits he'd brought with him) Dowd caught a train to Stettin, arriving at about five-thirty that afternoon. In Stettin, Dowd befriended two Dutchmen and the three of them spend several days trying to find a Swedish sailor who could help get Dowd aboard a Swedish ship. Eventually, Dowd met a group of Danish sailors who smuggled him aboard their ship, the Marguerite, which sailed the following day (5 September) for Riga in Latvia with Dowd hidden under a bunk in the forecastle. From Riga, the ship sailed to Dragor (south-east of Copenhagen) where Dowd persuaded five of the Danish sailors to desert. They took the ship's lifeboat and made a five hour crossing to Limhaven (Malmo) in Sweden, arriving at dawn on 19 September. Dowd was interrogated by a Swedish air force officer before being sent overnight to the British Legation in Stockholm. He was flown to Leuchars in Scotland the night of 24/25 September 1943.
Cpl Robert A Doubleday (1499) was captured, along with with most of the 1st Btn OBLI, at Hazebrouck on 28 May 1940. After time at a hospital in Lille, Doubleday joined a column of troops captured at St Valery and was marched through Belgium to Holland where they were put on barges to Emmerich (Germany) then by cattle truck to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland ...
Cpl Joseph H Curry (1500) was captured with his RAOC unit north-west of St Omer near Watten on 29 May 1940. Curry was marched to Cambrai and then sent by train to Trier (Germany) and finally by cattle truck to Stalag XXB (Thorn) in Poland ...
Curry spent his first five months at Thorn in hospital suffering from a septic leg wound and when he did begin work, it was firstly in the book parcels department and then the pay office. Doubleday was initially sent on various working parties from the main camp but spent his last twelve months of captivity also working in the pay office ...
Doubleday contacted a Polish lorry driver named Edmund Ziolkowski who worked for a firm of contractors who employed one of the camp's Arbeitskommandos. He recommended they made for Gdynia where he assured them that help would be found to get them out of the country. They arranged to have the Edmund Ziolkowski pick them up from a nearby wood between two and three in the afternoon of 7 September. Doubleday and Curry had also enlisted help from fellow POWs Hutson and Glancy (see below) who had regular access to the wood and on the morning of 7 September, they hid two sets of civilian clothes and a supply of chocolate there. At eleven-thirty, Glancy took Curry over to the wood and half an hour later, Hutson took Doubleday. The lorry arrived at two-thirty and with Hutson and Glancy keeping watch, Doubleday and Curry climbed on board and hid under a tarpaulin. They were driven to Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) and delivered to the home of another Pole, Antoni Staruskiewicz, who hid them for the next nine days while his wife travelled to Gdynia the check on the availablity of Swedish ships and to book a room for them. Their report says that the Polish lorry driver arranged to drive his lorry on 18 September to fetch some coffee from Gdynia, taking Doubleday and Curry with him but he seems to have arranged more than that because within two days, the two escapers were led separately on board the Swedish ship 'Mira' which sailed the next day for Stockholm. When the Mira reached Sodertalje (Stockholm) on the morning of 23 September, Doubleday and Curry were taken to a police station for a few hours before being put into a taxi and sent to the British Legation. They left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on the evening of 25 October 1943.
Pte James T Hutson (1514) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. After being marched across France and into Holland, he was held briefly at a transit camp before being sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. All of Hutson's time at Thorn was spent at Fort 13 with Sgmn Glancy (1522) looking after the 200 Angora rabbits which were kept at the Stalag HQ. Due to the nature of their work, both men were issued with Ausweise (passes) to leave their compound to work with the rabbits in the administrative block. Following the escape of Doubleday (1499) and Curry (1500) these passes were withdrawn but their movements between the camp and the rabbit farm soon continued as usual ...
Sgmn John Glancy (1522) was captured at Vimy Ridge on 19 May 1940. He was sent via Luxembourg to Stalag XXA (Thorn) ...
Hutson and Glancy had helped with the escape of Doubleday and Curry in September (see above) and knew the Poles who had helped them get away so when the time came for their own escape, they already had friends waiting for them. Curry had been working in the parcels office and it was felt that any more escapes from that department would cause even more trouble in the camp so it was decided that two newly arrived officers from Italy, who were about to be sent on to an Oflag, should take the place of the NCOs who had originally planned to escape with Hutson and Glancy ...
Capt Ronald T S Macpherson (1520) was in a four-man reconnaissance party that had been landed by submarine and fol boats on the Libyan coast to reconnoitre the beaches prior to an attack on Rommel's headquarters. After three nights of waiting for their submarine to return he was captured near Derna on 4 November 1941. He was taken by destroyer to Italy where he was held Campo 41 (Montalbo) until June 1942 when he was moved to Campo 5 (Gavi) near Genoa ...
Capt Colin N Armstrong (1521) was captured at Sidi Aziz on 27 November 1941. After being taken to Bardia, he was sent by submarine to Italy where he was held for a month at Bari before going on to Campo 38, the New Zealand camp at Poppi near Florence. After escaping from Poppi in July, Armstrong was sent to Campo 5 (Gavi) in August 1942 ...
On 9 September 1943, the Germans took over Campo 5 and on 14 September, the prisoners were driven to Acqui to be put into cattle trucks and taken by rail to Austria. They arrived at Stalag VXIIIA (Spittal) on 16 September. Macpherson and Armstrong escaped from Spittal on 21 September but were recaptured five days later near Chiusafort in Italy. As officers, they were destined for an Oflag but in the meantime they were sent by train to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland, arriving there 1 October 1943.
On 9 October, the two officers joined a working party from Fort 13 and when the party was dismissed for the day, they went to the rabbit farm where Hutson hid them in an inner room. That evening all four men left the camp to meet Edmund Ziolkowski who took them in his lorry to Bromberg where they were sheltered in a factory. They stayed two nights in the factory before another Pole (Antoni Staruskiewicz - query) drove them to the railway station at Danzig. After some delays they caught a train to Zopport and then a bus to Gydnia where they were sheltered by the same family that had helped Curry and Doubleday. On 17 October, they received news that a Swedish ship had docked at the coal basin and in the early hours of 18 October, the four men were smuggled aboard and hid themselves in the coal bunker. The ship sailed at mid-day and that evening the men gave themselves up to the crew. On 20 October the ship docked at Slite (Gotland) where they were handed over to Swedish police and the following evening they were taken to the British Legation in Stockholm. Hutson left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 28/29 October, and Glancy, Macpherson and Armstrong the night of 30/31 October 1943.
Note that neither this escape nor that of Curry and Doubleday the previous month would have been possible without the aid of the Polish underground. Both Edmund Ziolkowski and Antoni Staruskiewicz were awarded the BEM.
Sgt Bruce J Crowley (1501) was captured, along with several hundred other troops, at Tolo in southern Greece on 28 April 1941. He didn't stay long though, escaping on 15 June with two other men from a train taking them to Germany. After various adventures and attempts to get to Turkey, he was betrayed by a Greek officer and recaptured near Stavros on 28 October. He escaped again, this time from Dulag 183 at Salonika, on 15 November but was (reluctantly) arrested by Greek police and returned to the camp in early December. Crowley managed, with the help of the camp's interpreter, CSM Varley, to further delay his onward journey in the hope of another escape in Greece but on 16 April 1942, he was finally transferred to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in Germany where he met Gnr Harrison (1523) ...
Gnr Cyril E Harrison (1523) was captured near Albert on 20 May 1940. He was sent to Oflag VIIC (Laufen) where he worked as an orderly and then in April 1941 to Fort 8 at Stalag XXID (Posen) which he describes as a reprisals camp. In June or July 1941 he was moved to Oflag VB (Biberach) and in October to Oflag VIB (Warburg). In April 1942 he was moved to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in Poland where he joined Arbeitskommando 428 working in a sawmill at Dershau.
Harrison escaped from AK-428 in July 42, from AK211 at Triebitz (Czechoslovakia) in September 1942 and from AK-453 at Stranberg in April 1943, being recaptured and returned to Lamsdorf each time.
On 23 September 1943, Harrison and Sgt Bruce Crowley (see above) escaped from Arbeitskommando 243 at Breslau Gas Works. They planned on catching a tram to take them to the station but while Crowley managed to catch the tram, Harrison just missed it and the two men were separated until Stettin ...
Harrison went via Liegnitz and Sommerfield to Frankfurt an der Oder where he caught a train for Stettin. He had been advised to go to the suburb of Gotzlow but found no Swedish ships there. However, he did find two Frenchmen wearing red, white and blue badges. After finally convincing them of his identity, they fetched Sgt Crowley ...
Crowley had taken a series of trains via Glogau, Reppe and Kustrin before buying a ticket for Stettin, which he reached at about nine o'clock on the morning of 24 September. Crowley also went to Gotzlow to check on Swedish ships but returned to Stettin that afternoon having found it impossible to get into the harbour and there being no Swedish ships there anyway. He had similar luck at Am Dunzig where he'd seen a Dutch ship and so headed for the Arbeitsamt (Labour office) where he spotted three men who, by the way they wore their berets, appeared to be French. Having convinced them of his identity, Crowley was taken back to their Lager where they told him they worked on Swedish ships and would look after him until they could get him onboard one of them. When Crowley returned to the French barracks from having a shave, he found Harrison waiting for him.
The Frenchmen were as good as their word and on 27 September, Crowley and Harrison joined a party detailed to load the Swedish ship SS Ludvig at the Flughaven near Altdam. They actually replaced two of the French workers who boarded the ship later after the two escapers had hidden themselves in the cargo of coal. The Ludvic docked at Landskrona, north of Malmo, on 29 September and Crowley and Harrison were handed over to the Swedish police. A few days later they were taken to Stockholm where they reported to the British Legation. Crowley left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on 26 October 1943 and Harrison three days later.
Capt Frederick H Long (1545) was captured with his Commando unit at Lentini (Sicily) on 14 July 1943. He was held at Campo 66 (Capua) until mid-August when he was moved to Bologna ...
Capt Roy H Bridgman-Evans (1557) and a party of 2 SAS were dropped by parachute near Capizzi in Italy 13 July 1943. Unfortunately the containers with their weapons failed to arrive and they were captured by Italian troops that same day. They were sent to Nicosia then by truck to Messina and boat to Gioja Tauro. After escaping from Gioja on 22 July and being recaptured on the beach, Bridgman-Evans was sent to Capua and then on 30 August to PG19 at Bologna ...
Following the Italian Armistice, the camp was taken over by German troops and on 11 September 1943 the inmates were sent by rail to Germany, arriving at the ORs camp of Moosburg on 13 September. A few days later the officers were moved to Fort Bismarck near Strasbourg (Alsace).
On 1 October 1943, Bridgman-Evans and Long escaped from the camp, covered by brother officers as they cut their way through the wire. They walked to Epinal in Lorraine where they found shelter for a couple of nights then on to Aillevillers-et-Lyaumont where they stayed with Nicholas Vogelsang. Emil Horn came from Belfort and arranged ID cards for them and on 16 October, they were taken overnight to Paris and handed over to the Bourgogne organisation. Bridgman-Evans left for Perpignan that evening and crossed the Pyrenees to Figueras with F/O Georges Lents (1567). Long left Paris on 22 October, joining a party of French and American evaders who walked from Pamiers to Andorra before being driven to the British Consulate in Barcelona on 31 October. Bridgman-Evans left Gibraltar by air for the UK on 5 November 1943 and Long on 10 November.
Sgt Piotr Bakalarski (1570) was the pilot of Wellington Z1270 returning from Hamburg 26/27 July 1942 when his aircraft was damaged by fighters. He headed for Sweden but lack of fuel forced him to crash-land in northern Germany where he and his crew were captured immediately. After interrogation at Dulag Luft, Bakalarski was sent to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf.
In July 1943 Bakalarski exchanged identities with Pte Moritz Leder and volunteered for work parties. After being sent to Tarnowitz, from which escape seemed impossible, Bakalarski asked to be sent to a coal mine. He arrived at the Dachsgrube at Jaworzno later that month where he worked with another Polish airman, Sgt Witold Raginis (see below). He was also able to contact some of the Polish civilians in the mine who were members of an organisation. Following a failed escape from Jaworzno (see below) he was put into cells for two months during which time he was able to contact the Polish organisation again. On release, Bakalarski was sent to the Leopoldsgrube mine. On 10 July 1943 Bakalarski escaped the mine, walking away at the end of his shift to where two members of the organisation were waiting with bicycles. They took him into Janow where he was hidden for four days before being taken back to Jaworzno for another three days. On 22 July, Bakalarski was given a railwayman's uniform and put on a train to Rudawa where he stayed until taken to Cracow. In Cracow he was reunited with his friend Raginis who had escaped on 10 June ...
Sgt Witold Raginis (1589) was the rear gunner of Wellington Z1471 which was shot down on the night of 20/21 August 1942 and ditched off Brest. The whole crew were able to get into their dinghy where they spent the rest of the night until being picked up by a French fishing boat at about six o'clock that morning and landed at a nearby fishing port.
After a brief spell at Fresnes and Dulag Luft, Raginis (with the rest of his crew) was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). After six months at the main camp, Raginis exchanged identities with Pte Edward Lehem (AMPC) in order to be assigned to a work party. He duly joined Arbeitkommando 561 at Tarnowitz, loading and unloading coal, stones and sand at the railway station. At Tarnowitz, Raginis met Piotr Bakalarski and two Canadians, one an airman and one a Dieppe commando, who had also exchanged identities to get onto a work party. The four of them then volunteed to work in a coal mine as this seemed to offer a better chance of escape than the closely guarded railway work and were duly sent to Dachsgrube at Jaworzno. Raginis and Bakalarski escaped from Jaworzno on 10 June 1943, simply slipping away through the wire to meet some two Polish partisans in a nearby wood. Unfortunately, Bakalarski, who left ten minutes before Raginis, ran into some waiting Germans - his Polish guide was shot and Bakalarski recaptured two days later. Raginis had better luck, his guide took him to a farm at Dabrowa for the night and then on to Szczakowa where he was sheltered by a Polish family for three days before being taken by train (as a uniformed assistant engine driver) to Cracow, where he was later joined by Bakalarski ...
On 18 August, Bakalarski and Raginis left Cracow with a group of Polish workers conscripted for work in Germany. They went to Sarrebourg in Lorraine where they worked in the garden of the Bahnmeister. After a couple of weeks, the multi-lingual Raginis confided in one of the local men that they were escaped POWs from Poland and he arranged for them to contact a local French organisation. They left Sarrebourg on 14 September and were taken to the French border. They seem to have lost contact with the original organisation at this point (despite Raginis fluent French from having lived in France for many years before the war) so made their own way to Luneville where they were put in touch with the Marie-Claire organisation which arranged their journey to Spain.
Bakalarski and Raginis joined RAF evader Sgt Stanley Philo (1580) and Dvr Frederick G Williamson RNZASC, who had escaped from Lamsdorf in September, to set off with their guide across the Pyrenees on 25 October 1943. Weather conditions were so bad on the crossing that Dvr Williamson had to be left in the mountains near Pic de Rulle, where he died of exposure. The remainder of the exhausted, frost-bitten group finally reached Andorra on the night of 26/27 October. Bakalarski left Gibraltar by air for Bristol on 10 November 1943 and Reginis on 29 November.
L/Cpl George A C Arnold (1613) was captured at Kalamata, Greece on 27 April 1941 and the next day Pte Harold H Woodward (1614) was captured south of Corinth. Both men were held at a transit camp at Corinth until the end of June when they were transferred to Salonika and on to Front Stalag 306 at Maribor (Marburg) Yugoslavia just south of the Austrian border.
Arnold was sent to an Arbeitskommando in Yugoslavia from where he escaped to Austria but was recaptured four days later. In September 1941 he was sent to AK2044/L at Walkersdorf in Austria until October 1942 when he was transferred to Stalag XVIIIA (Wolfsburg). In February 1943 he was moved to a camp at Pisweg where he was in charge of a party of about 50 men working on the roads. Arnold was returned to Wolfsburg two months later when the Germans found there were only ten men still working, the rest having either escaped or been sent them back to the main camp as unfit for work. In June he was sent to AK-1755/L at Eiberswald on the Yugoslav border. Following an argument with one of the guards, Arnold was transferred to AK-1951/L at Pichling near Koflach where he met Pte Woodward, who had been sent there straight from Maribor two years earlier.
At Pichling they were in a party of ten prisoners working on a farm, with just two German guards. On 15 September 1943, Woodward attacked the guard inside the guard-room with an iron bar taken from one of the windows while Arnold attacked the guard outside in similar fashion, probably killing both of them. They took a revolver from one guard but discarded the rifle of the other and made their way across country that night, resting up the following day. They then decided their chances would be better if they travelled during the day, hoping to pass for German soldiers on leave. They continued walking south-east, crossing the border into Yugoslavia and heading for Zagreb until they were intercepted by Yugoslav partisans, to whom they declared themselves as escaped POWs. They stayed with the partisans, constantly on the move, until they were handed over to an American officer near Split. The American arranged for their evacuation by RAF rescue boat to Bari (Italy) at the end of October. From Bari they were flown to Cairo for debriefing then home via Lisbon, arriving at Newquay on 3 December 1943.
P/O Oliver L S Philpot (1617) ditched his Coastal Command Beaufort into the North Sea on 11 December 1941 following an attack on a convoy off Norway. After two days in their dinghy, the crew were picked up by a German convoy and landed at Christiansand. Philpot and his gunner Sgt F J J Smith were held in Oslo until 16 January 1942 when they were taken to Denmark and on to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. At the end of February Philpot was sent to Oflag IXA (Spangenberg) and on 28 April, to Stalag Luft III (Sagan). On 14 September he was moved to Oflag XXIB (Schubin) but then returned to Sagan on 4 April 1943 ...
Philpot describes the difficulties of escape from Sagan, especially from the East Compound where he was, in his MI9 report, noting the regular discoveries of the many tunnels dug from inside the barracks, and concludes that something 'new and original' would be needed if it were to have any chance of success. Richard Codnor and Eric Williams had started just such a scheme and Philpot became the third participant.
Lt Richard M C Codnor (1618) was returning by motorcycle from a patrol in North Africa when he was captured near Medjaz-el-Bad on 15 December 1942. He was flown to Sicily then Naples and then, in error, sent to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. On 15 January 1943 he was taken to Oflag XXIB (Schubin) and on 4 April, to Stalag Luft III at Sagan ...
P/O Eric E Williams (1619) was bomb aimer of Stirling BK620 which crashed in Holland the night of 17/18 December 1942 and the whole crew captured. After time at Dulag Luft, Williams was sent to Schubin. I don't have a date for him moving to Stalag Luft III but probably in April 1943 the same as Codnor ...
Their escape scheme was simple in concept but extremely complex in operation. Rather than dig a tunnel from the barracks huts, which were continually being discovered, they would start their tunnel from the exercise yard, close to the wire and in full view of their guards. A wooden vaulting horse was constructed by W/Cdr Maw and each day it was carried out into the yard for the prisoners to jump over. When they had completed their day's exercise, the horse was returned to the canteen. A routine was established but what the Germans failed to notice was that each day, one of the three would-be escapers was concealed inside the horse and would spend his day digging underneath it. When the day's work was completed, the soil from the new tunnel would be stored in bags hung inside the horse to be returned (with the digger) and distributed about the camp later. A wooden cover was constructed to hide the tunnel entrance and this was carefully replaced and camouflaged each evening.
The tunnel was started on 8 July 1943 and took almost three months to complete but at 18.30 on 29 October, the three men escaped. They reached the nearby woods unseen where they removed their black camouflage and cleaned themselves up.
It had been agreed that the men would separate on leaving the tunnel. Codnor and Williams walked to the local station to get the evening train to Frankfurt an der Oder, just across the German border. Each hotel they tried was full so they had to sleep rough that night before catching another train for the one hour journey to Kustrin. After spending the day at Kustrin, they caught another personenzug (slow train) to Stettin, arriving at eight o'clock that evening. Again the hotels were full so they spent the night in an air-raid shelter, cleaning themselves up in a public lavatory the following morning. They also managed to find a hotel that would take them that morning which gave them an opportunity to have their first shaves since leaving the camp. They spent the rest of that day and the next trying to find a French or Swedish dock-worker willing to help them board a ship to Sweden. They finally found a French worker they thought they could trust and told him what they needed and he agreed to meet them at his work camp that evening. That evening they met more Frenchmen and asked them to spread the word that two English POWs needed to get aboard a ship. It took several days, during which time the escapers haunted the local cafes and cinemas, before a Danish sailor agreed to take them aboard his ship which was sailing for Copenhagen then Oslo and then Goteborg in Sweden. They boarded the ship in the evening of Saturday 6 December and it docked at Copenhagen at noon the following day. They were taken ashore by the sailor they'd met in Stettin and hidden in his flat until the Tuesday when they were taken to meet the captain of the ship for the first time. They returned to the ship that evening and the following day she sailed for Oslo with the two escapers hidden in the chain locker. Just after mid-day on the Thursday, the two men were sent ashore at Stromstad with the Swedish pilot and he took them to the local police station where they stayed overnight. Next day they were taken to Goteborg where they were met by the British Consul who took them to Stockholm.
Philpot adopted the persona of Herr Jon Jorgenson, a Norwegian Quisling touring various facilities in Germany, complete with papers made in the camp to verify his story. He just had to hope that he didn't meet any real Norwegians as he didn't speak a word of their language. Philpot saw Williams and Codnor at the station and took the same train to Frankfurt an der Oder but didn't see them again until they were all safe in Stockholm. Like the other two, Philpot spent the night in Frankfurt and took the morning train to Kustrin but then he caught the Konigsberg express to Kirshau and then another fast train to Danzig, arriving at five o'clock that afternoon. After spending the night in a hotel, Philpot was able to board a Swedish ship the following evening. Finding nowhere suitable to hide, Philpot declared himself to one of the crew who insisted on calling the captain. Philpot was then hidden in a locker until the ship sailed on the morning of 2 November. The ship docked at Sodertalje at midnight on 3 November and Philpot was handed over to the Swedish police. Next day he was taken to Stockholm and the British Legation.
Philpot left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on 26 December 1943 on BOAC Liberator G-AGFO. Codnor and Williams left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 28/29 December 1943, also on BOAC Liberator G-AGFO (Flight 14B558).
Note that some of the escapers who made it to Sweden were flown back to Leuchars in the bomb bays of BOAC Mosquitos but despite the British Airways archives having flight details, they don't include passenger lists ...
For more details of the escape see 'The Wooden Horse' by Eric Williams and 'Stolen Journey' by Oliver Philpot.
Capt Ralph B Palm (1628) SAAF was shot down on a ground strafing operation in Libya on 29 November 1941 and captured by Italian troops three days later. He was sent to Bari and after three months in hospital at Piacenza, moved to Campo 78 (Sulmona). Following a failed tunnel escape, he was moved to Campo 17 (Rezzonelio). Four more escape attempts resulted in Palm being sent to the trouble-maker's prison at Campo 5 (Gavi) in September 1942. After the Italian Armistice in September 1943, the camp was taken over by German troops and the prisoners moved to Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) arriving 19 September 1943. On hearing that the British officers were soon to be moved again, Palm exchanged identities with an American officer who left in his place and teamed up George Tsoucas ...
Capt George Tsoucas (1886) was a Greek national living in Egypt when the war began and enlisted in the British Army as an interpreter. In September 1942, he was with an SBS party of twelve, landed by submarine on Rhodes to destroy the aerodrome there. Following the raid, Tsoucas was taken ill with malaria, left behind and captured by Italian troops. On 16 November he was sent to the Greek mainland and then to Italy where he was held at PG75 at Bari until early March 1943 when he was transferred to PG47 (Modena). Following an escape on 12 May (he was recaptured two days later) and thirty days in the cells, Tsoucas was sent to Campo 5 at Gavi. After the Italian Armistice in September 1943, Tsoucas and the other officers at Gavi were sent to Stalag VIIA (Moosburg). Like Palm (see above) Tsoucas changed places with an American officer in order to stay at Moosburg in southern Bavaria rather then be moved deeper into Germany ...
On 29 September 1943 Palm and Tsoucas escaped from Moosburg by hanging beneath a trailer leaving the camp. They caught a train to Munich and went to find a Frenchman whose address they had been given in the camp. Whilst being sheltered in Munich they were joined by Capt Richard Carr who had escaped from Moosburg with Sgt Lee Gordon USAAF (see below). On 23 October Palm, Tsoucas and Carr left Munich hidden in beer barrels on a goods train which delivered them to the marshalling yards at Strasbourg four days later. Leaving Carr on the train (he was supposed to follow them but they never saw him again) Palm and Tsoucas walked across the border to Embermenil in France where they were put in contact with an organisation at Luneville (Marie-Claire) which arranged their journey to Spain. For Palm see McSweyn below ...
Capt Richard Carr (LRDG) was recaptured by a lone German policeman on the same evening that Tsoucas last saw him.
Palm left Gibraltar by air for the UK on 21 December 1943 and Tsoucas on 26 March 1944.
P/O Allan F McSweyn (1629) was pilot of Wellington R1509 which was shot down returning from Bremen on 29 June 1941. He evaded in Germany for two days but was captured on 1 July trying to steal an aeroplane from an airfield near Bremen. After a brief spell at Dulag Luft, McSweyn was sent to Oflag IXA/H (Spangenberg) until the beginning of October when he was moved to Oflag VIB (Dossel). On 14 September 1942 McSweyn was transferred to Oflag XXIB (Schubin) and then in April 1943, to Stalag Luft III (Sagan). Sagan was known to be hard to escape from so on the way, McSweyn exchanged identities with Seaforth Highlander Pte John McDiarmaid with a view to being sent to an 'easier' camp in the future. At Sagan McSweyn worked as an orderly and got into as much trouble as possible. The SBO knew what McSweyn wanted and he duly complained to the German Commandant that McSweyn should be transferred. In July 1943 McSweyn was sent to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf. He soon escaped from a work party and got as far as Stettin before he was recaptured a few days later.
On 19 September 1943 McSweyn and Dvr Frederick Williamson escaped from Lamsdorf through a tunnel that had been dug earlier but never tested. McSweyn was travelling as a Frenchman but spoke no French while Williamson was a fluent French speaker. They left at one o'clock in the afternoon, their exit from the tunnel covered by other prisoners distracting the guards, and walked to Lamsdorf station where they caught the train to Cracow and then Berlin. Next morning they took a train to Mannheim and after an uncomfortable night in an air-raid shelter, another train to Saarbrucken where they were sheltered in a French work camp. On 24 September they were taken to Metz and a few days later, to Luneville where they made contact with the Marie-Claire organisation.
They were visited by the Chief of Police who had them handcuffed and taken to Nancy where they given new identity cards and sheltered in a restaurant. On 4 October they were moved to Lyons where they were taken over by Mary Lindell's son Maurice and on 8 October they went to Ruffec and met Mary herself. It took until 20 October to get the special passes for their crossing to Andorra and Williams left with Bakalarski, Raginis and Philo (see above) only to die tragically on the crossing. McSweyn left Ruffec a week later with Palm (1628) (see above) and RAF evaders F/O Michael Cooper (1635) F/O Harry Smith (1636) and Sgt Len Martin (1704). They were taken by truck to Foix to follow the route to Andorra but a series of arrests meant they had to return to Ruffec. It took five days for Marie-Claire to find them an alternate route through Pau and Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Mary went with them as far as Montory in the Pyrenean foothills. They set off at midnight in the pouring rain and their crossing was almost as hard as the one that claimed Williams. One of their guides died before they finally descended to the Spanish town of Uztarroz where they surrendered themselves to the local police. They were held at Pamplona and then Lecumberri for about three weeks before being taken to Madrid and on to Gibraltar. McSweyn left Gibraltar by air for Whitchurch the night of 20/21 December 1943.
Sgt Lee Carl Gordon (#434) was ball-turret gunner on B17 41-24623 which was shot down over Wilhelmshaven on 26 February 1943. Gordon was captured on landing and after a couple of weeks at Dulag Luft was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) arriving there on 15 March. He was transferred by rail to Stalag VIIA on 26 March, delaying his arrival at Moosburg until 1 April by escaping from the train en route. After considerable planning (and commissioning some made-to-measure leiderhosen from one of the guards) he made a second escape in June 1943 but was recaptured at Ehingen. He escaped from Moosburg for the last time with Capt Richard Carr on 13 October 1943. They spent two days walking to Munich where they contacted a Frenchman on a work party there. He told them about Palm and Tsoucas passing through the previous night and arranged for them to meet. Gordon became separated from the other three and his departure from Munich was delayed until 28 October when he boarded a train with two Frenchmen and arrived at Strasbourg two days later. Gordon left the train at Dombasle-sur-Merthe (near Luneville) and was directed to St Nicholas-du-Port. At St Nicholas he made contact with an organisation and his journey was arranged.
I don't have all the details but Gordon was taken to Paris on 12 November and involved in at least one other escape scheme when he was among those who scrambled ashore from the Jouets-des-Flots when the fishing boat was wrecked off the Brittany coast at the end of January 1944. He returned to Paris soon after and stayed in the city until 24 February when he was taken to Brittany by the Shelburn escape line and evacuated from Plage Bonaparte by Royal Navy MGB the night of 26/27 February 1944.
Cpl Raymond (NMI) Sarant USA (#451) was with his Anti-Tank Company (168 Infantry Regiment) when he was captured near Kasserine on 20 February 1943. After transfer to Italy, Sarant was sent to Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) on 21 March. On 5 April he was moved to Stalag VB (Willengen) and after 14 days in solitary confinement following an escape attempt in May, he was sent to Stalag IIIB (Furstenberg) on 8 June. He made his first escape from Furstenberg on 19 September and got as far as Soest before being captured six days later and returned to the camp.
With the aid of French prisoners, Sarant made his second escape from Furstenberg on 24 October 1943. He left with two French Gaullists and three French officer candidates. The six men walked to Gubin where they were sheltered by a French kommando (work party) while they tried to find a suitable train to stow away on. Unfortunately the camp was raided the next night and the three officer candidates captured, Sarant only just managing to escape through a window. He contracted pneumonia whilst hiding in the woods and was treated back in the work camp until 2 December when news of another raid forced him to move on. He and a Frenchman named Herzin went to the rail yards and were checking the train labels when a troop train arrived and they had to hide themselves in the nearest wagon without knowing where it was going. Their train took them to Reisa in Saxony, which was not where they were hoping for. They quickly changed to another train which took them to Leipzig, where they were sheltered by another French kommando. On 11 December, a French railway worker put them into a wagon bound for Paris. After a week on the train, and having run out of food and water, they finally left the train at Paigny-sur-Moselle, just across the French border, on 18 December.
French railway workers spotted them and recognising them as fugitives, gave them food and water and took them to the local mayor, who gave them money and ration cards. Sarant and Herzin then went on to Paris where both men had friends but none of them had any contacts with the resistance. Travelling separately, the two men went Herzin's home town of Villefranche-de-Panat (Midi-Pyrenees) where Sarant spent Christmas and was put in touch with the local resistance.
On about 19 January 1944, Sarant was handed over to Françoise Dissard in Toulouse. He was sheltered with Therese (Martin query) while Françoise went to Geneva to check his identity through the British authorities (Vic Farrell). Sarant was joined in Toulouse by airman evaders F/Sgt J H McWilliams (1788) 2/Lt E Larry Grauerholtz (#439) and 2/Lt William M Foley (#440). On 26 January, Sarant, Grauerholtz and Foley were taken to Quillan and next day to Perpignan where they met Jean Borde. The following night they were taken to Vinca and started on their three-day walk across the Pyrenees to Spain where they were collected by car and taken to the British Consulate in Barcelona.
Lt George R Millar (1716) was captured near Msus in Libya on 25 January 1942. He escaped from a POW train taking prisoners from Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) in October 1943. Millar made his way to France and was taken across the Pyrenees to Spain in January 1944 by the Bourgogne organisation. See 'Horned Pigeon' by George Millar for more details.
Cpl Edward J A Phelan (1723) and Pte Earle Silverwood (1724) were captured at Sphakia (Sfakia) Crete on 1 June 1941. Phelan escaped a few days later and lived in the western mountains of the island until September 1942 when he was recaptured with a group of evading Australian soldiers. After a month in prison at Galatas and a fortnight in Piraeus, he was sent to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf. Silverwood also escaped to live in the mountains. He was recaptured in December 1941 and sent to Lamsdorf in February 1942 ...
Spr Frederick Simmons (1725) was captured near Dunkirk on 30 May 1940 ...
On 6 November 1943, Phelan received a letter from fellow New Zealander Bruce Crowley (who had escaped in September) indicating that the route he had used, and which he had discussed with Phelan before leaving, was satisfactory and that he had got safely away. Phelan then got himself on the same Arbeitskommando E-117 at the Baku Cement Factory as Silverwood and Simmons and they joined forces.
On 20 December 1943, the three men escaped their respective barracks and met up at Oppeln station where they caught the personenzug (slow) train to Breslau. At Breslau, Simmons bought them tickets to Berlin where they caught another train for Stettin, arriving there about 14.20 next day. They made their way to the dock area and started searching for Swedish sailors, eventually finding a group in a brothel who agreed to help them. They arranged to meet their new Swedish friends two days later (Christmas Day) and they were taken on board their ship that night. The escapers were hidden in the rope locker until the ship sailed on 1 January 1944. They were landed at Oxelosund next day and handed over to the Swedish police who passed them on to the British Consulate in Stockholm on 4 January. Phelan, Silverwood and Simmonds left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 23/24 January 1944.
RSM Albert E Hawtin (1726) was wounded and captured at Hazebrouck on 28 May 1940. He was in hospital at Camiers until 15 July when he was taken into Holland and put onto a barge. After five days travelling by barge, he was taken by train to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. Whilst at Thorn, Hawtin worked at Forts 12, 13, 14 and 15 and at the latter he met a Polish officer called Radzynski. On the afternoon of 5 January 1944, with the sentry diverted by another soldier, Hawtin and Radzynski walked out of the main compound of Fort 15 to hide in a bunker outside the moat. Another diversion, this time by the padre Capt Wild, allowed Hawtin and Radzynski to leave their bunker that evening. Radzynski took charge that point and Hawtin's journey was arranged through the Polish underground ...
Radzynski led Hawtin on a circular route away from the camp, covering about four kilometres before they were picked up by a Polish lorry driver who had earlier helped smuggle cloth into the camp for Hawtin's civilian disguise. They were driven straight to Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) - whether this was the same driver who took Doubleday and Curry (see above) in September isn't clear - where they stayed overnight in a Polish girl's apartment. Next evening they were moved across the road to spent the night in a factory (owned by a man named Dodromski) then returned to the flat the following morning. They stayed in the factory for the weekend of 8-9 January then on the Tuesday, were picked up by lorry and driven to Gdynia, which they reached the following day. They were sheltered in a small village about three kilometres outside Gdynia until the evening of 13 January when an elderly lady took them by bus to the dockside. Hawtin and Radzynski were taken (separately, using the same identity card) on board a Swedish ship where they were hidden in a hold filled with coal. The ship sailed the following day (14 January) and arrived at Uddevella (north of Goteborg) on the morning of 17 January. The two escapers were handed over to the Swedish police who, after a brief interrogation, sent them to Goteborg and on to the British Legation in Stockholm. Hawtin and Radzynski left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on 25 January 1944.
L/Cpl Ronald C Jeffery (1822) was captured in France at the beginning of the war and escaped from Stalag XXIB (Lodz) in January 1942 with L/Cpl Muir (3071) but his MI9 report is not available from the National Archives. His full story is told in the book 'Red Runs the Vistula' by Ron Jeffery.
3rd Mate Arthur H Bird (1823) was serving board the cargo passenger vessel MV Australind in the Pacific when she was attacked by the German commerce raider Komet on 14 August 1941. Three crew were killed and the rest taken to Germany, arriving at Cuxhaven 30 November. The crew were sent straight to the Naval POW camp of Milag und Marlag Nord at Westertimke. I don't have the whole story but Bird escaped from Westertimke sometime in August 1943 and after failing to convince a Danish captain to take him, was smuggled aboard a Swedish ship which sailed via Kiel to Oxelsund in Sweden, arriving on Saturday 28 August 1943. After spending the rest of the weekend with one of his Swedish helpers, Bird reported to the British Legation on the Monday. Bird, who spoke quite good Swedish, remained in Stockholm, working in the Legation Chancellory until the following year, finally leaving Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night 20/21 February 1944.
Lt Stewart W L Campbell RNVR (1832) was forced to ditch his Swordfish off Cefalu, Italy on 11 November 1941 after running low on fuel. Campbell and his gunner LA Faleron swam to the Italian mainland but were captured next day. After interrogation at Palermo, the two men were sent to a camp near Rome and then on 2 December, Campbell was sent to PG41 (Montalbo). In January 1943 he was moved to PG35 at Padua and then at the end of July to PG19 at Bologna. On 9 September 1943, the camp was taken over by German troops and a few days later the prisoners were sent by train to Germany. Campbell had a few days at Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) before moving to Fort Bismarck then Stalag VD (Offenburg) and Wiensburg before finally arriving at Milag und Marlag Nord (Westertimke) at the beginning of November 1943 ...
Lt Denis Kelleher RNVR (1843) was captured on 22 June 1942 after his landing craft was sunk during the evacuation from Tobruk harbour. He was held at Tobruk aerodrome for three days before being flown to Italy. He was sent via Bari to PG21 (Chieti) until April 1943 then PG35 (Padua) for a couple of months before being transferred to PG19 at Bologna. Although in a different party, Kelleher's trip to Germany was the same as Campbell's and he also arrived at Westertimke at the beginning of November 1943 ...
On 22 February 1944 Sub-Lt McLister RNVR and Lt Taylor RN cut through the perimeter wire and escaped, intending to make for Holland. A few minutes later Campbell and Kelleher followed them out of the camp. Dressed in naval uniform, the two men made for Tarmstedt station to catch the eight o'clock train for Bremen. Unfortunately they missed their train and had to walk the thirty kilometres instead. At Bremen they took a train to Hamburg where they spotted a train about to leave for Lubeck. They had planned to go to Rostock but as they were anxious not to hang about Bremen any longer than was necessary they took the Lubeck train instead. They managed to sneak aboard a Swedish ship in Lubeck harbour the following night. Their next problem was to convince the crew to help them. The ship wasn't due to leave for another five days but fortunately the ship's cook had been saved from a sinking ship by the Royal Navy and he volunteered to hide them in his cabin until the ship sailed. On 27 February they were moved to the engine room where they hidden under a boiler until the ship finally left early on the morning of 29 February. The ship landed at Stockholm on 2 March 1944 where Campbell and Kelleher were handed over to the Swedish police who soon passed them on to the British Consulate. Campbell left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night 10/11 March 1944 and Kelleher the night of 15/16 March.
F/Sgt Cyril B Flockhart (1833) was a gunner on Halifax L9516 which was shot down over Belgium on the night of 5/6 August 1941. He was captured that night and taken to Dulag Luft at Oberursel before being sent to a Stalag at Dobrilugk-Kirchhain (query). In May 1942, Flockhart was transferred to Stalag Luft III (Sagan). Following an escape from Sagan in May 1943, Flockhart was moved to Stalag Luft VI (Heydekrug) on 30 June 1943. The new camp was still under construction and the by-then experienced inmates decided that perfect papers and careful preparation would be needed to make any successful escape.
The key to Flockhart's success was the escape of Sgt George Grimson RAF - Grimson had walked out of Heydekrug on 18 January 1944 disguised as a German guard, complete with a dummy rifle. Grimson contacted the local Polish resistance and made arrangements for subsequent escapers, sending coded letters back to the camp with the details. It was the receipt of one of these letters that prompted Flockhart, having shaved off his moustache and dressed in genuine German civilian clothing, to bluff his way into an unfinished section of the camp on 18 February 1944 and then use a forged pass to leave through the main gate. Flockhart walked to Heydekrug station and took a series of trains to Rybno before walking to the home of a local resistance chief where Grimson was staying. On 21 February, Flockhart and Grimson took separate trains to Danzig and after several false starts, Flockhart finally boarded the Swedish ship SS Flora which left Weichselmunde on 25 February, arriving in Stockholm two days later. Flockhart left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on 10 March 1944.
Lt David P James RNVR (1834) was captain of MGB 79 escorting a group of mine-layers off the Dutch coast when she was sunk by enemy action on 27 February 1943. James and four of his crew were picked up by a German ship ...
I only have the first page of his MI9 report but see 'Escapers Progress' by David James for details of his foiled escape attempt while disguised as a Bulgarian naval lieutenant named Ivan Bagerov and his eventual escape from Marlag on 10 February 1944. James left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 15/16 March 1944.
F/Lt Thomas H Cullen (1856) was Medical Officer to 33 Sqn RAF on Crete and he was captured on 20 May 1941 when the island was invaded. On 1 June Cullen was flown to Athens where he tended to the wounded POWs at Kokinia hospital. On 27 October, Cullen and three other Medical Officers were moved with the wounded to Salonika and then on 6 December, Cullen was sent to Germany and Stalag XXA (Thorn) arriving 19 December 1941 ...
QMS John Greig (1857) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. After being marched through France and Belgium, he was put on a barge to Wexel and then taken by train to Stalag XXA (Thorn) arriving 10 July 1940.
On 29 February 1944 Cullen and Greig changed into civilian clothing, crossed the frozen moat and, after using a ladder to scale the fence, walked around the perimeter to the main gate. They walked past the guard post while the guard's attention was diverted by other prisoners and went to meet the lorry that was waiting for them. From this point their journey was arranged by the Polish underground ...
Greig makes a point of saying in his MI9 report that the assistance given by the Polish underground had been going on for some considerable time and that the people who helped him and Cullen were from the same group that helped Doubleday and Curry escape (see above) in September 1943. Cullen left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 18/19 March 1944 and Greig the night of 22/23 March.
Sgt Pers Bergsland (1866) was flying Spitfire AB269 as fighter cover over Dieppe when he was shot down over the Channel on 19 August 1942. He was picked up two hours later by a German patrol boat. He was held briefly at St Omer before going on to Dulag Luft at Oberusel. After two weeks of solitary confinement and interrogations he was sent to Stalag Luft III (Sagan) arriving 17 September. Six weeks later he was transferred to Oflag VIB (Schubin) where he stayed until the end of April 1943 when he was returned to Sagan ...
2/Lt Jens Einer Muller (1867) was flying Spitfire AR298 off the coast of Holland when he was shot down on 19 June 1942. He drifted off-shore in his dinghy for four days in the hope of being picked up by friendly forces but finally had to paddle ashore, where he was captured. After time at Dulag Luft he was sent to Stalag Luft III (Sagan) arriving 2 July 1942 ...
The tunnel through which Bergsland and Muller (and Bram van der Stok - see below - and so many others) escaped was started in May 1943 and took until March 1944 to complete. The extraordinary story of the 'Great Escape' is well known so I won't describe it further.
On 25 March 1944, Bergsland and Muller escaped from Stalag Luft III, the forty-third and forty-fourth men out of the tunnel. As both pilots were Norwegian, they posed as Norwegian workmen and had the necessary (forged) papers to prove it. They walked straight to Sagan station, reaching it just ten minutes before their train to Frankfurt an der Oder arrived. From Frankfurt they went to Kustrin and on to Stettin. At Stettin they went to an address they had been given in the camp which turned out to be a French brothel. They found their contact outside and he took them to the docks. He left them on the quay while he boarded a Swedish ship but it sailed before they could join him. They returned to the brothel but it was closed by then so the two escapers booked into a hotel for the night. They returned to the brothel the following evening where they met two Swedish sailors who immediately agreed to help them. They were taken a few kilometres out of town to a dock south of Parnitz where they boarded a Swedish ship, simply walking past the German guard with the two genuine crew. The ship sailed early on 28 March, arriving Goteborg the following evening. On 30 March they were at the British Consulate in Stockholm. Bergsland and Muller left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 6/7 April 1944.
AC1 Jacob Gewelber (1917) was serving as ground staff for 33 Sqn RAF at Maleme when Crete was invaded and he was captured 23 May 1941. Gewelber worked as translator at Canea (Chania) hospital for two months before joining an RAF party working on a new aerodrome on the south of the island. In September he was sent to Athens (where he gave his name as Gilbert and claimed to be Welsh) and on via Dulag Luft at Oberursel to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). Gewelber escaped twice from Lamsdorf, the second time only being recaptured after living in Cracow for four months. After six weeks in a civilian prison in Cracow, Gewelber was returned to Lamsdorf in February 1943 for a day before transfer to Stalag Luft III (Sagan). Following a failed escape from Sagan in May 1943, Gewelber was transferred to the most northerly of all the German POW camps, Stalag Luft VI (Heydekrug).
Gewelber and Sgt Townsend Coles (sic) RAF escaped from Heydekrug on 4 April 1944. They bluffed their way out of the main gate with Gewelber disguised as German ferret and Coles as a civilian engineer. They had planned to walk to the Lithuanian border to try and contact Russian partisans but the bad weather persuaded them to take a train from Tilset, through Konigsburg to Danzig. Gewelber stayed in Danzig until 19 April when he was able to board a Swedish ship at Weichselmunde. He arrived in Sweden 25 April 1944. Gewelber left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 6/7 May 1944.
I don't know exactly what happened to Sgt Coles but understand that W/O R B H Coles-Townsend was at a civilian prison at Tilset in May 1944, later charged with espionage and shot.
Gdsmn John E Jones (1919) was captured at Boulogne on 23 May 1940. After a failed escape attempt from one of the POW columns in France, he was sent to Lamsdorf, arriving 13 June 1940. At that time Lamsdorf was a Polish camp with no accommodation for British prisoners, who were housed temporarily in stables. Jones was sent to various work parties from Lamsdorf, escaping several times before leaving for the last time in April 1944.
On 5 April 1944 Jones was sent to Camp 428 at Derschau. He already had civilian clothes, money from the escape committee and a hacksaw blade and on the night of 17 April, he broke through the bars of his room, climbed down his home-made rope and walked to Opeln. From Opeln he took a train to Breslau then Frankfurt an der Oder and Stettin where he accosted a group of passing Poles and asked where he might find some Swedish sailors. He was directed to a brothel by the harbour where one of the girls arranged for him to meet a Swede who took Jones back to his ship that night. Jones was hidden in a cabin until 21 April when the ship was moving for coaling prior to sailing. The crew knew the ship would be searched before they left so they moved Jones to a ballast tank until they were out to sea. The ship sailed that afternoon and Jones was released that night and returned to the cabin until shortly before they landed at Stockholm on 23 April. Jones did not want to found by Swedish customs officials so he was hidden under a boiler until they left the ship. Next day one of the seamen took Jones to the British Legation where he reported to the Military Attaché. Jones left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 8/9 May 1944.
Sgmn Patrick J Harkin (1951) and Sgmn James B O'Neill (1954) were captured at Calais on 26 May 1940. They were marched across France and Belgium to Holland and sent to Stalag VIIIB (later Camp 344) at Lamsdorf in June ...
Sgmn John McCallum (1955) was wounded and captured at La Capelle on 23 May 1940. After three weeks in hospital at Boulogne he was transferred to Cambrai. In September he was moved to Lille and in November sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) where he met James O'Neill (his half-brother) and Patrick Harkin and their stories are the same from that point. They were held at various work camps (including E-465 at Karlsbrunn) and on 23 March 1944 they were sent to Kommando E-476 at Romerstadt near the German-Czech border.
At Romerstadt the three men lived on the ground floor of a converted factory with just two German guards. While the other POWs worked on the railway, Harkin, O'Neill and McCallum worked together on a local farm. On the evening of 24 April 1944, the three men escaped through the window of their room, cut through the wire fence and walked to Karlsbrunn, an area they knew well and where they hid in a deer-stalker's hut above the town. They contacted a Czech friend in Karlsbrunn who supplied them with civilian clothing. On 12 May they left for Freywaldau, arriving there early the following morning. They then took a series of trains to Liegnitz where they stayed two nights in a French work camp. On 15 May they continued to Sagan but found the men at the French work camp were too frightened by the recent escape (in March) to be able to help them. They took the evening train to Frankfurt an der Oder where another group of French workers sheltered them for two nights. On 17 May they took a train to Angermunde where they found yet another group of French workers prepared to help them for the night. Next day they went to Stettin where they spent the night in a bombed out house.
On 22 May they made contact with a Frenchman who took O'Neill to a brothel in the dock area where he met a Swedish sailor who agreed to help him board a ship due to sail in two days' time. When he was told there were three of them however, he wasn't prepared to do any more than show O'Neill where the ship was berthed. Next day the three escapers bluffed their way past the German sentry and boarded the ship. One of the crew then fetched the sailor that O'Neill had met at the brothel. He took them to the coal bunker where they buried themselves in the coal and hid until the ship was out to sea. The ship left Stettin early in the morning of 25 May and next day their helper asked another one of the crew to accidentally discover them and bring them to the captain. After a quick lunch, they were put onto a Swedish pilot boat which passed them on to a Swedish minesweeper that landed them at Malmo. The police put them into a hotel until 28 May when they were sent to Stockholm. Harkin left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on the night of 4/5 June 1944, and O'Neill and McCullum the night of 10/11 June.
L/Cpl William R J Lloyd (1976) was captured at Lillehammer in Norway on 22 April 1940. He was sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in May ...
Pte Edward V Burfield (1977) was captured at Oudenarde in Belgium on 21 May 1940. He was marched to Brussels and sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) ...
Both men were sent to various Forts and work camps and escaped from most of them but were recaptured and returned to Thorn each time.
On 19 May 1944, Lloyd and Burfield left Thorn for the last time. When their work party returned to Fort 13 that evening, a diversionary fight held the guards' attention while they entered the barracks and straight out the back window (with Pte W Charlton, Pte G O Russell and Pte Young) and through the wire. They took cover in a stand of trees to change into civilian clothes and then Lloyd and Burfield separated from the others. Three days later they returned to the main camp where two of their friends were working in the Kommandantur. They obtained the key to a back room and hid there until visited by Spr Heyhurst. Burfield exchanged identities with Heyhurst so he could enter Fort 13 again where he arranged for other prisoners to make them ID cards and take their photographs. They were then sheltered just outside the camp by Polish helpers until leaving for Gdynia on 29 May. At the docks they found three Swedish ships and in the early hours of 30 May, they boarded one. They went straight to the officers cabins and declared themselves. Two officers immediately agreed to help them and they were soon hidden in a bilge tank. The ship sailed the following morning and as soon as they were in Swedish waters, the officers released them from their hiding place and they lived in the crew's quarters until the ship docked at Sundsvall on 3 June. They were handed over to the Swedish police who sent them on to Stockholm where they arrived early on the morning of 5 June. Lloyd and Burfield left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 18/19 June 1944.
F/Lt Bram van der Stok (2032) was flying Spitfire BL595 when he was shot down and captured. I don't have a copy of his MI9 report but van der Stok was the third of the 'Great Escapers' to make it back safely to England. Helped by the Dutch-Paris organisation, he was in a party of five airmen brought across the Pyrenees from Saint-Pé-d'Ardet to Canejan in Spain, arriving 18 June 1944.
Sgt Seneca L McMullen (2055) was captured at Dieppe on 19 August 1942. He was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in September. On 7 March 1943 he exchanged identities with a private in order to get sent on a work party at Bedzin. He escaped on 30 April but was recaptured five days later and returned to Lamsdorf. On 20 July (still posing as the private) he was sent on a work party at Glatz, from which he escaped on 26 November. He was recaptured the next day and sent back to Glatz. On 5 January 1944 he declared his true identity and was returned to Lamsdorf. On 18 February he was sent to Stalag IID (Stargard) and on 28 May he exchanged identities with another private to get onto a work party at Teschendorf ...
Cpl Gustaf A Nelson (2056) was also captured at Dieppe on 19 August 1942 and sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). He was also transferred to Stargard in February and exchanged identities with a private in May to get himself on the work party at Teschendorf ...
On 9 June 1944 McMullen and Nelson escaped from Teschendorf by breaking out of the house where they were kept and cutting through the perimeter wire. They walked to Freienwalde where they caught an early morning train to Stargard and then on to Stettin, arriving there at two-thirty in the afternoon. That evening they went on to Swinemunde and an address they already had. They were sheltered in Swinemunde until 14 June when they boarded a ship bound for Sweden. They arrived in Trelleborg near Malmo on 1 July 1944. McMullen and Nelson left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 18/19 July 1944.
Sgt James Branford (1/298/2391) was bomb aimer of Stirling BK765 which was shot down returning from Berlin the night of 23/24 August 1943. Branford baled out, landing a few miles west of the city and badly spraining his ankle. He soon met his navigator, P/O J F S Hood, and deciding that France was too far, the two men started walking north, hoping to find a train for Stettin. They travelled by night, hiding up by day, but were spotted and captured three days later. After time at Dulag Luft, Branford and Hood were sent to Stalag IVB at Muhlberg ...
Sgt Jean L N Warren (2996) was tail gunner on Halifax LK990 which was shot down returning from Cologne the night of 19/20 November 1943. Warren was still in the aircraft when it crashed in Holland and he was captured soon afterwards. After time at Dulag Luft, Warren was sent to Stalag IVB at Muhlberg ...
On 1 May 1944, Warren and Branford joined a French work party and went to watch a POW football match. On the way back they were taken to a hut where they were given some food and then into the woods until evening. They hid in a cemetery for three days, supplied with food by Frenchmen from the work party, before moving to Esterwerda where they hoped to find a train bound for Switzerland. Eventually they found a train going to Holland and five days later arrived in Hengelo. The two men were sheltered at various addresses by the Dutch underground until 28 August 1944 when Branford left.
Warren was taken to a castle near Hattem and then to a farm near Gorssel for two months until he and his helpers were captured in a German raid. He was taken to Landvach prison at Deventer where he was accused of being a terrorist and brutally interrogated by the SD.
On 1 February 1945, Warren and the other prisoners at Deventer were put on a train for Germany and knowing they were unlikely to survive otherwise, five of them escaped that night. Warren walked through the night and contacted two Dutch farm workers the next morning who put him in touch with the Dutch underground again. He was sheltered at Didam (a few miles south-east of Arnhem) until 5 February when he was taken to Lobith with the intention of crossing the Rhine. The following night Warren and twenty-three civilians boarded two boats to take them across the river towards Allied lines but they were spotted by German soldiers who opened up with machine-gun fire and damaged both boats, forcing them to return to shore, landing near Pannerden. Warren returned to Lobith where he met American evader Colonel Glenn Duncan USAAF (#2970) and they stayed there until 22 February. Warren and Duncan were sheltered at various addresses by the Dutch underground until they were liberated near Velp in April 1945.
Branford's report says that from 21 June 1944 his journey from Holland was arranged and I have no further details. His interview by IS9 is dated March 1945.
Sgt A V MacIntosh (MB/1108) was second pilot of Halifax LK990 (see above) and he baled out over Germany and was captured immediately. He was held in an old prison near the Dutch border from which he was able to escape that night. He walked through Venlo to Bessel where he was helped ... MacIntosh was interviewed by IS9 on 9 September 1944.
Spr Horace Johnson (2066) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He was marched through France and Belgium to be put on a barge to Wexel in Germany and then a train to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. He was only at Thorn for ten days before being transferred to Stalag XXB at Marienburg. He was sent out to various work camps until being returned to the main camp on 27 March 1942.
On 28 January 1943, Johnson (a fluent German speaker) and Cpl Robert H Easterbrook (2824) joined a party working on the railway from which they were able to escape quite easily. They crossed the frozen river Nogat and walked south-west to Dirschgau where they hid for two nights on a farm that belonged to a German-naturalised Pole that Johnson had met on a previous work party. They went on to Fishbude where they hid in a barn for another two nights and then to an address they had been given in the camp, a farm at Grabowitz. They were both weak from the extreme cold and were sheltered on the farm Easterbrook left in January 1944 but Johnson stayed on until the summer.
On 1 June 1944 Johnson left Grabowitz for Neustettin where he was sheltered for a week in a French POW work camp before moving to another near Hammerstein. A few days later he cycled to Stettin, arriving about 6 July where he was sheltered by French POWs until he was able to find a Swedish sailor prepared to help him. On 16 July he boarded a Swedish ship where he was hidden in a cabin until the ship sailed four days later. Johnson left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 9/10 August 1944.
Sgt William G Reed (2070) was air gunner on Wellington W1381 which was shot down returning from Bremen the night of 2/3 July 1942. Reed baled out over Germany and was soon captured. He was sent via Dulag Luft to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). At Lamsdorf, Reed met Egon Blumental, a young German speaking Viennese passing himself off as an Australian sergeant called Hayes. In March 1943 Reed changed identities with Pte Harold Bagshaw in order to get onto a work party and Blumental exchanged identities with a New Zealand soldier called Sutton. On 17 April 1943 Reed and Blumental escaped from a party working in a quarry. They got as far as boarding a ship at Stettin (and being thrown off it by a Swedish crewman) before they were caught and returned to Lamsdorf.
In January 1944 Reed met Spr Toch (another German speaker) and they decided to try and escape together ...
Spr Heinrich Toch (2073) had joined the Palestine Port Operating Company in February 1941 and been sent to Greece. He was captured near Kalamata on 29 April 1941. After six weeks in a POW camp at Corinth, he was moved to Stalag 503 (Maribor) in June and then to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in August ...
On 10 May 1944, Reed and Toch joined a party working in the Hohenzollen Grube mine at Beuthen (Bytom) in Poland. Some of Reed's earlier attempts to get onto work parties had failed when he was recognised so this time, when he exchanged places with Pte Elykin Wald, he'd grown a moustache, cut his hair very short and removed his false teeth.
On 11 July 1944, Reed and Toch changed into civilian clothes and walked to Beuthen where they took a train to Kattowitz (Katowice) the opposite direction to where they really wanted to go. They then returned through Beuthen to Breslau and then slow trains via Frankfurt an der Oder and Kustrin to Stettin. At Stettin they met Johnson (see above) and another man who were also trying to escape but deliberately avoided them after that. They took a tram to Gotzlow and boarded a Swedish ship (Ludwig) that night. After hiding Toch in the engine room, Reed woke up one of the crew and asked for his help. A Swedish engineer hid both men under the false bottom of the engine room. The ship sailed at seven o'clock the following morning (15 July) and after clearing the second check at Swinemunde, their helper brought them to his cabin. They docked at Solversborg on 16 July and were taken by taxi to the Consulate in Malmo. Reed left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 9/10 August 1944 and Toch the night of 12/13 August 1944.
L/Cpl Clifford G Evans (2077) was captured near Sedjenane in Tunisia on 3 March 1943. After three weeks behind German lines, Evans was handed over to the Italians and sent to PG98 (Palermo) for a month before going on to PG78 (Sulmona). At Sulmona, Evans was asked to volunteer for work and when he refused, was sent with about 200 other prisoners, to Stalag IVB (Muhlberg). Three weeks later, at the end of August, he was moved to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). On 1 April 1944 Evans was moved to Stalag VIIIA (Gorlitz) where he volunteered for a work party. He was sent to Marschendorf near Trautenau to work in a cigarette paper factory, where he met Dvr Siely ...
Dvr Walter J Siely (2078) was captured on Crete on 1 June 1941. After three months at Galatos (Crete) Siely was moved to Salonika for six weeks before being sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). After going on several other work parties (and escaping twice) Siely was sent to Marschendorf where he met L/Cpl Evans ...
After numerous escape attempts, Evans and Siely were sent to Stalag VIIIA (Gorlitz) in June 1944. On 8 July they joined a work party at Munsterberg working in a cement pipe factory and in the early hours of 14 July, they escaped through the window of their billet. They walked to the station and caught a train to Breslau. After breakfast in the park they took a train to Frankfurt an der Oder and then Eberswalde, where they slept rough for the night. Next morning they took a train to Stettin where Siely was able to get directions from Polish workers for a brothel that catered for foreign sailors. They were taken to Kleinoder Strasse but the house was closed. They were sheltered in a French work camp until they were able to find a Swedish sailor prepared to help them. On 24 July they finally boarded a ship where they were hidden in an airshaft. It was five days before the ship sailed and they were safely in Swedish waters but on 29 July they were put ashore by pilot boat at Kalmar the local newspapers later reported them swimming ashore from an unknown vessel. The Kalmar police contacted Stockholm and the two escapers arrived at the British Legation on 1 August 1944. Evans and Siely left Stockholm by air for Leuchars the night of 14/15 August 1944.
Pte J H Kimberley (2403) was (like McMullen and Nelson above) a Canadian captured at Dieppe on 19 August 1942. He was held a Camp Verneuil near Rouen before being sent to Stalag VIIIB (later Camp 344) at Lamsdorf. Like other prisoners from Dieppe, Kimberley was kept in chains during much of the day but he made two escapes from work parties after exchanging identities with other soldiers, the first ended in Dresden and the second (which lasted twenty-four days) at the Czech-Austrian border. On 1 March 1944 he was transferred to Stalag IID (Stargard). Kimberley escaped from Stargard on 2 June 1944 and went to Stettin but after failing to find any Swedish ships, was told he needed sugar to bribe a Finnish crew to take him on board. He returned to Stargard, where he got sufficient sugar by bartering cigarettes but was arrested at the station trying to get back to Stettin.
On 3 August 1944, Kimberley escaped from a work party in Stargard town and bribed a Frenchman in the local civilian work camp to drive him to Stettin. At Stettin he went to a brothel reserved for foreigners where a Polish girl agreed to put him in touch with a Swedish sailor. He met the sailor the following evening and it was arranged that Kimberley would swim out to his ship that night. He was hidden in a dry tank until the ship sailed and then on 11 August, as the ship was passing Dalaro, jumped overboard and swam ashore. He was sent to the British Consulate in Stockholm next day. Kimberley left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on 9 September 1944.
Capt Ian P Thomson (2440) was captured at El Alamein on 24 August 1942. He was held at PG75 (Bari) until June 1943 when he was moved to PG47 (Modena). Following the Italian Armistice in September 1943, he was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf).
On the night of 16 May 1944 Thomson and a Sgt Pals (Canadian Intelligence Service) were the fourth and fifth men out through a tunnel dug from the barracks and under the perimeter wire. They walked to Mannsdorf where they caught a train to Neisse and then another to Liegnitz. They got another train to Hof then Nuremberg to Heidelberg where they arrived on the morning of 19 May. From Heidelberg they took another train to Saarbrucken and then Metz where they went to an address they had been given in the camp. At this point Pals (whose family were living in Holland) decided to return to Lamsdorf. Thomson walked west into France and got to Conflans-en-Jarnisey where he was recognised by the locals as English and offered assistance.
On (about) 2 June, Thomson was put in touch with a man and woman who took him back to Metz for three days and then on to Paris. In Paris he was told the usual escape route to Spain was closed so he was taken (with other evaders) to the Yonne area where he stayed with a maquis group until liberated in September 1944.
Sgt Gordon T Woodroofe (2452) was second pilot of Wellington W5576 which was ditched off Denmark the night of 10/11 September 1941. The six man crew were picked by a Danish fishing boat and taken to Ebsjerg where they were handed over to the German authorities. After a few days at Dulag Luft (Oberursel) Woodroofe was sent to Stalag 344 (Lamsdorf) until June 1942 when he was transferred to Stalag Luft III at Sagan. He spent time at various camps and on several different work parties, escaping from E-367 (Jagendorf) in May 1943 and getting as far as St Veit in Austria before recapture. In January 1944 he joined work party E381 at Olbersdorf working on the railway at Ziegenhals. Note that I been unable to reconcile some of these place names.
On 17 August 1944, Woodroofe and Pte Glasnau (a Palestinian Jew and fluent German speaker who had assumed the identity of an Australian POW named Fred Johnson) escaped from Ziegenhals. They walked to Niesse (sic) where they caught a train for Breslau but Glasnau, who had forgotten to bring his (false) papers was arrested on the station. From Breslau, Woodroofe took what he believed to be a train for Berlin but when the train failed to go anywhere near Berlin, he got off at Halle. Declaring himself lost and trying to get to Wismar, he was advised to take a train for Hanover and get off at Magdeburg. Unfortunately he slept through to Hanover and had to take a train for Hamburg and change at Ludwigslust for Wismar, where he finally arrived in the evening of 23 August.
At Wismar, Woodroofe walked straight to the docks and went to a bar where he befriended some French workers. He was sheltered for two nights before being helped to board a Swedish vessel (Lima). He was hidden aboard until the ship sailed on 26 August. After a delay sheltering from a storm and while the RAF mined the harbour approaches, and then another day while the mines were swept, the ship finally left harbour on 28 August and landed at Karlshamn on 29 August. The Swedish police took Woodroofe to Stockholm on 30 August and he reported to the British Legation next day. Woodroofe left Stockholm by air for Leuchars on the night of 8/9 September 1944.
Spr Norman Middleton (2614) & Rflmn Andrew McGlone (2615) were captured at Wimereux (near Bolougne) in May 1940 and Sphakia, Crete in June 1941 respectively. Their subsequent escape together from Stalag 344 (Lamsdorf) in September 1944 when they joined a group of repatriates (men being exchanged for German prisoners on medical grounds) has, on first reading, all the makings of an Ealing Comedy sketch although it was course, deadly serious at the time ...
Middleton had arrived at Lamsdorf in June 1940 and made six previous escape attempts from various work parties, and McGlone, who arrived in September 1941, had made four but their final (and successful) bid for freedom was not planned in advance and neither had any special kit with them. The story is perhaps best told in Middleton's own words :
"We heard on 3 September 1944 that the repatriates were being mustered in the hospital compound prior to departure. We decided to try and join them and managed to leave our compound with a working party which was going to another part of the camp. When the party passed the place where the repatriates were being lined up, we managed to leave it and entered the hospital grounds. We jumped the low wire fence and joined the queue of repatriates without being detected. The Germans were checking each man by his identity card and we joined a party which had already been done. By carrying other peoples luggage we avoided looking conspicuous and were marched off to a tent to be searched. This was not very thorough and we got through it successfully. After the search, we were all marched out of the camp to a field outside. At this point the Germans naturally found they had two extra leaving the camp and they decided on a second card check. This was very stringent, the repatriates were made to dump their luggage and were carefully checked man by man. With help of Cpl L Jarvis, we managed to hide under some piles of kit which were not searched. The Germans decided the count at the camp gates was erroneous and we were marched to the station. Here the repatriates were mustered in groups of fifty and we again avoided detection by lying under the kit. We then boarded the train where we were checked again but we hid under the seats. By this time however, the Germans had found that two men were missing from the camp and naturally suspected they were on the train. They therefore, came down in force and did a thorough search, coach by coach. By now it was dark and when the guards were about half way down our carriage, we climbed onto the roof. After allowing them time to get clear, we entered the coach from the other end. A further search was made later in the night and McGlone managed to hide under a seat while I hid behind the lavatory door. When we embarked for Sweden, a further check was made on the quay and we again hid under the kit. We then marched on to the boat without further difficulty."
The repatriates were put on board the SS Arundel Castle which left Goteburg for England on 8 September. Once they left the port, Middleton and McGlone reported to the orderly room where the Captain congratulated them on their escape but insisted they be returned to Sweden. They were duly collected by pilot boat and taken back to Goteburg then sent on to Stockholm. Middleton and McGlone left Stockholm by air for the UK on 24 September 1944.
Sgnmn William Thomas (2617) was captured at St Valery-en-Caux on 12 June 1940 and was one of the many men who escaped the marching columns of prisoners being taken to Germany. He was sheltered in Loos for seven months with a family that he'd been billetted with prior to the May offensive, sharing with Pte Alfred Beattie (IS9 2/1/1). In January 1941, Thomas, Beattie, Gnr Harold Smith (1078) Gnr Robert Brown and two others were taken to Marseille where they stayed in a hotel for three weeks until arrested by a French policeman and sent to the British internment camp at St Hippolyte du Fort. In March, Thomas, Smith and Brown escaped from St Hippolyte and got as far as the Pyrenean foothills at Le Boulou before being recaptured and, after a spell in prison at Montpellier, returned to St Hippolyte. In March 1942, they were transferred with the other internees of Detachment W to Fort de la Rivere and in September, to Chambaran. Smith escaped from Chambaran on 3 December (I don't know what happened to Beattie) and on 6 December, Thomas was moved to Campo 73 in Italy. Following the Italian armistice of September 1943, the prisoners at PG73 were taken to Germany and Thomas arrived at Stalag XVIIIC (Markt Pongau St Johann) near Salzburg in Austria.
On 20 July 1944, Thomas and a French prisoner who was using the assumed name of Edouard Polard, escaped from a work party at Salzburg. They don't seem to have planned their escape much and Thomas at least, was still in his uniform. However, he was able to buy civilian clothes from a group of French workers in Salzburg, using chocolate and cigarettes that he had brought from the camp. From Salzburg, Thomas and Polard boarded a military goods train which took them to Belfort where they changed to a passenger train that took them to Chaumont. Polard left at this point to make his way to Paris while Thomas (who spoke fluent French) was helped by a series of engine drivers to get to Montlucon (Auvergne) where, on 22 July 1944, he joined the FFI. Thomas stayed with the FFI group, helping Captain Farmer RA with his radio work until 29 September when he travelled to recently liberated Paris.
Pte James Brown (2646) was serving with No 5 Commando when he was captured at St Nazaire on 28 March 1942. After a brief period at Rennes and then Marlag und Milag Nord, Brown was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in June 1942. He went out on numerous work parties (and escaped from three of them) before being sent to Wossvolda near Beuthen (Bytom) in Poland in September 1943 ...
L/Sgt Alfred C Searson (2709) was serving with No 2 Commando when he was captured at St Nazaire on 28 March 1942. He followed the same route as fellow Glaswegian, James Brown (2646) and accompanied him on two of his earlier escape attempts before being sent to Vosswalde near Beuthen in August 1943 ...
L/Sgt Richard Bradley (2868) was serving with No 2 Commando when he was captured at St Nazaire on 28 March 1942. He followed the same route as Brown (2646) and Searson (2709) and accompanied Searson on one of his earlier escape attempts (when they almost reached the Swiss border) before being sent to Vosswalde near Beuthen in September 1943 ...
Brown, Searson and Bradley escaped from the work camp at Vosswalde on 21 October 1943. They simply forced the lock on the main door of the camp with a bent nail while the guards were having dinner. The three escapers walked down the road to the railway station where they took a train to Oppeln and Breslau, then Dresden, Plauen, Nuremburg and Ulm to Tuttlingen. They only used slow trains and had no problems with their papers and there were no controls. From Tuttlingen they walked to Engen then Singen and after crossing the Singen-Gottmadingen railway line, headed for Ramsen. They crossed into Switzerland due north of Hofenacker on 25 October 1943. All three remained in Switzerland until leaving for the UK in October 1944.
Gnr Martin H Winterburn (2647) was serving with No 6 Commando when he was captured at Mateur (Tunis) on 20 December 1942. He was taken to Italy but moved from Campo 65 (Bussetto) following the Italian armistice in September 1943 and sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). Following his second escape attempt in March 1944, from a stone quarry near Oppeln when he got as far as Stettin before recapture, Winterbourn was sent to a food distribution warehouse at Oppeln in June.
Winterbourn escaped from Oppeln with two other (unnamed) men. They had bought civilian clothes from a Pole and sold their valuables in exchange for German currency and on 25 June 1944, went to the baths to change before walking to the local station. They bought tickets for Breslau where Winterbourne changed for Klangenfurt (Austria) and the others for Cologne. Winterbourne, who spoke just enough German to get by, took the Berlin-Vienna express to Vienna where he changed for Klagenfurt, arriving there in the evening of 26 July. Winterbourne was heading for Yugoslavia via the high mountain Loibl Pass and he reached the Drava river in the early evening of 29 June. The river was about 300 yards wide at this point and with both bridges guarded, he was forced to swim across, the fast current taking him a long way downstream before he could get out again. Next day, he met a French work party and asked where he could find some Partisans. Eventually, Winterbourne was able to contact a girl who spoke English and she directed him to a band of Yugoslavs. Winterbourne stayed with the Partisans until meeting a group of two British Intelligence officers, a squadron leader and two Signals corporals. After spending two days with the British group, a radio message was received ordering Winterbourne to make his way to Italy. He was guided by a Russian girl who took him to a mixed patrol of British, American and Russians officers who sent him with a runner to liberated territory. Winterbourne was then sent, along with some American aircrew, to join more American and New Zealand aircrew before they were all flown to Bari in Italy on 25 July. Winterbourne returned to the UK by ship from Naples, arriving at Liverpool on 13 August 1944.
Fus Joseph Purvis (2710) was captured at St Valery-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He was taken to Germany where he was held at Stalag XXA (Thorn) until September and then Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza) from where he was sent on various work parties until April 1943 ...
In December 1942, Purvis was sent to the Arbeitskommando at Merkers, working in a salt mine. The conditions were so bad that all forty-seven prisoners decided to try and escape together, which all but twelve did just three days after arrival. Unfortunately, they were all (including Purvis) recaptured and punished with extra work. Purvis seems to have planned his next attempt more carefully with both he and his intended travelling companion, Gnr Martin, spending six weeks collecting and storing food for their journey. On 29 April, Purvis and two others visited the latrine and while the other two covered for him, Purvis slipped away, climbed the fence and ran for the nearby woods. He returned that night to meet Martin (who had been working on the railway, half a mile from the mine) and again next day, but he never appeared so on 2 May, Purvis made his way to the railway yard and stowed himself away in a wagon marked 'Ausland, Italian' and covered himself in salt. Half an hour later, a guard came along and sealed the wagon before it was hitched to a train which left soon after. It took four days for the train to reach Basle where the wagons were inspected and resealed before entering Switzerland, although Purvis didn't realise this at the time. It was only after he heard voices speaking both French and German an hour later that he left the wagon. He immediately approached a railway worker in order to get a desperately needed drink, and while he was enjoying that, Swiss military police arrived. After a meal and a night in jail, Purvis was sent to the British Legation in Berne. He stayed in Switzerland until 24 July 1944 when he and two Belgians travelled to Toulouse. By then it seems that passages across the Pyrenees weren't possible and so Purvis joined and fought with a local maquis group until 1 October when he went to Marseille - where he met the first contigent of repatriates from Switzerland !
Gnr David T Davies (2713) was captured at Sphakia (Crete) on 1 June 1941 and after brief spells at Canea, Salonika and Stalag XVIIIA (Wolsburg) in Austria, he was sent to a working party near Gaas in September 1941. Davies escaped from Gaas on 28 November 1943 along with NZ Captain Roy Spencer Natusch and a Pte Joseph Walker. They managed to get into Hungary but were recaptured after lighting a fire which attracted the attention of the local police. They were still in Hungary, held as civilian internees in a castle at Szigetvar, when the Germans invaded Hungary on 19 March 1944. Next day they were moved into the town of Szigetvar - at which time Natusch was taken away and not seen again - and the following day, taken to Belgrade (Yugoslavia) and a concentration camp on the banks of the Danube at Zemun.
On 17 April 1944, an Allied air raid destroyed the camp and Davies, Walker and Sgt Major Norman McLean (who they'd met at Zemun) escaped across the marshes outside Belgrade, being joined on the way by American escapers Richard Bridges (855) and Glenn Loveland (#856). They stopped just outside Asania (query) and while the others were resting, Davies and Loveland went into the town. They made contact with a shepherd who took all five escapers to his house where they joined a group of Yugoslav Partisans ...
2/Lt Richard W Bridges (#855) was the pilot of B-24 41-23811 Fascinatin' Witch which was shot down by fighters and flak on 1 October 1943 and crashed near the target of Weiner Neustadt in Austria. Bridges and the six other surviving crew were soon captured - Bridges (who was injured) the following day after asking some locals for help. He was taken to the Hungarian village of Valem where his injuries were treated before the military authorities took him to Koseg and then on to a military hospital at Szombathely. Next day, Bridges was transferred to Budapest where, after a fairly gentle interrogation, he stayed in another military hospital until the end of October. On about 1 November, Bridges was transferred to the Polish officers internment camp at Zugliget, just outside the city. A couple of days later, two German officers who were going back to Germany on leave, took Bridges with them to Dulag Luft at Oberursel (Frankfurt). He was interrogated by an English speaking Luftwaffe lieutenant who already seemed to know rather a lot about the 44 Bombardment Group (Bridges unit back in the UK) including the names of the CO and other members of the ground crew. After three days in Germany, Bridges was returned to Budapest, firstly to a Polish interrogation camp and then to a Polish officers camp about eight miles north of Szombathely. In December, Bridges was joined by Glenn Loveland (#856) ...
S/Sgt Glenn Loveland (#856) was the ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-5218 Skywolf which hit by flak over Bremen on 13 June 1943 and abandoned. Loveland and the other seven surviving crew were captured immediately on landing and after being searched, were taken to Dulag Luft. After about a week of interrogations, Loveland was sent by train to Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) in southern Bavaria.
After three rather amateurish escape attempts from Moosburg, Loveland (and others) were moved to Stalag XVIIB near Krems in Austria. Loveland and four other (unnamed) men escaped from Krems by cutting their way through the wire from one compound to another until they reached one that held very few prisoners, and so was lightly guarded. After making his way through the final fence, and having failed to meet up with any of the other four escapers, Loveland headed for Krems before spending the rest of the night in a vineyard. Next day, he continued to the outskirts of town where he approached some French workers who took him back to their Arbeitskommando barracks where he stayed the night. The French gave Loveland food, clothes and a compass and advised him to head for Budapest where there was, they said, an American Legation. Loveland walked from one French camp to another for a couple of days until he was able (with more French help) to steal a bicycle. Loveland cycled south until the roads deteriorated into tracks too steep and rough for his bicycle (which he abandoned) then began walking, always heading for Wiener Neustadt, near the Hungarian border.
After passing through Wiener Neustadt, where they were clearing up after an Allied air raid, Loveland got a lift to Mattersburg (Rohrbach bei Mattersburg) where his request for assistance was misunderstood and resulted in him being led to the local police station and put in a cell. The mistake was quickly rectified when he was loaned a shovel and directions on where to start digging a hole through the floor and Loveland was soon able to continue his trek across the mountains to Hungary. After crossing the border, and having been soaked by falling in a stream, Loveland took cover in a shack near a coal mine but shortly after his clothes were dry again, two Hungarian policemen arrived to arrest him. Loveland was taken in chains to a village near Sopron and after a couple of days, a Hungarian officer came to ask why he'd come to Hungary. Lovelend told him that he understood there was an American Legation in Budapest but the officer explained that Hungary was actually at war with America !
Three days later, Loveland was taken by train to a Russian camp in a castle near Komaron while the Hugarians tried to decide what they should to do with him. On advice from the Russian prisoners, Loveland claimed to be an officer and the Hungarians explained that they would treat him as an American (one of only two thought to be in the country at the time) while they checked with the Swiss and that his previous ill-treatment had been because the Germans had tried to infiltrate spies as English or American and that one of them had recently been caught. A month later (sometime in December) Loveland was transferred to a camp for high-ranking Polish officers near Szombathely, where he joined Richard Bridges (#855) ...
On 29 January 1944, the Polish underground arranged for Bridges and Loveland to escape from Szombathely and an armed Polish guide took them to his home in Budapest. They were sheltered in some comfort by the Poles until an attempt was made to take them into Yugoslavia but they were captured near the Barcs on the Drava river and sent back to the Russian camp at Komoran. Three weeks later, Bridges and Loveland were transferred to a new Polish officer camp in the castle at Siklos. When the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944, the two Americans were transferred to Dulag 172 (Zemun) Belgrade, Yugoslavia where they joined prisoners of various nationalities, including 30 British and 11 Americans. They had only been a few weeks at Zemun when, on 17 April, an American air raid on Belgrade flattened the camp. Many prisoners were killed, and Bridges injured, and with no shelter available, there was a mass break-out ...
David Davies (Pte Joseph Walker and Sgt Major McLean - not mentioned by the Americans) Richard Bridges and Glenn Loveland were wearing civilian clothes but had no supplies with them when they escaped apart from a small compass and map that Davies brought. They ran south-west through the marshes until reaching the village of Surcin, where they rested briefly before heading towards Sabac on the Sava river. Just short of Sabac they encountered a shepherd who took them into the village where they were passed on to a Partisan group. The five escapers were looked after by Yugoslav Partisans until being evacuated from Batrovci to Bari by RAF Dakota on 20 July 1944.
Sgt Samuel H Cooke (2729)
Pte Leonard E Mann (2823)
Pte Robert H Easterbrook (2824)
Cpl Charles Hildebrand (2825)
W/O Cyril Rofe (2832) was a crewman on Wellington R1323 which was shot down by flak and crash-landed off Hellevoetsluis, Holland on the night of 11/12 June 1941. The crew were captured but Rofe later escaped from a work camp at Lamsdorf with Charles Hildebrand (see above). I don't have a copy of Rofe's MI9 report but his story is told in the book 'Against the Wind' by Cyril Rofe.
Tpr Thomas Speed (2929) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He was marched through France and Belgium to Holland and sent to Stalag IXC (Mulhausen). Speed was sent on numerous work parties attached Mulhausen and following two escape attempts, was sent to Erfurt on 26 February 1943.
On 24 May 1943, Speed and eleven other men escaped from Erfurt by taking up the floor boards of their hut and crawling through a hole in the wire. Speed hid in a disused hut until the following day when he walked to Arnstadt and stole a bicycle. He returned to the hut to collect his escape kit and then began cycling south. He got as far as Heilbronn before one of his tyres punctured and he had to steal another bicycle from the town. On 30 May, he reached Waldshut where he hid in the woods until nightfall before swimming the Rhine to Switzerland. A local Swiss found him exhausted by the river bank and sheltered him until the police arrived. Speed was then taken to the British Legation in Berne. Speed remained in Switzerland until 3 October 1944 when he was repatriated to the UK.
Sgt John George Ward (2930) was the wireless operator in Fairey Battle L5540 which was shot down by flak and ground fire over Luxembourg on 10 May 1940 and crash-landed near Diekirch. The crew were captured and taken to a hospital at Diekirch where F/O Cameron died on the operating table. After time in various hospitals and Dulag Luft, Ward was sent to Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) in December 1940 and then to an unnamed repatriation camp in Upper Silesia in January 1941. At the end of March he was sent to a work camp near Lissa in Poland.
On 17 April 1941, Ward was in charge of a work party of twenty POWs (with two German guards) when he slipped away and changed into the civilian clothes he was wearing under his uniform. He got as far as Gostyn before he was arrested in the railway marshalling yards. He was taken to the nearby police station but escaped through a window that night and made his way over the next six days to Sieradz from where his journey was arranged ...
Ward went to a Roman Catholic church where he told a priest that he was a British POW escaper who wanted to be put in touch with the Polish underground. On about 30 April, a Pole known as Janek took Ward by train to Lodz and a flat on Adolf Hitler Strasse where he met a local underground chief called Sigmund and was sheltered by a Lithuanian woman called Anna in the same street. At the end of May, Ward was taken by bus to Warsaw where he stayed with a former colonel of the Polish army at Flat 56, Kredetowa 9. The original intention had been to get Ward to Russia but the outbreak of war between Germany and Russia in June, made this impossible. At the end of the month, Ward met Otto Gordzialowski, a lawyer who ran an underground newspaper called 'Dzien'. He offerred Ward a job of taking down BBC radio broadcasts so they could translated into Polish for publication in the newspaper. Ward duly moved in Gordzialowski's flat where he stayed until October 1944. In September 1941, the Gestapo located the newspaper and captured the printers and distributors but failed to catch Otto, who went into hiding. Ward also went into hiding for two weeks before returning to the flat where he continued to live, with Gordzialowski's wife as his secretary. In 1942, Ward's work expanded to include the construction of wireless receivers and transmitters which were supplied to various other underground organisations and in June, began publishing his own newspaper, the 'Echo' before handing it over to the ZWZ organisation in February the following year. He also trained a number of Poles as radio operators.
Following the Warsaw uprising in October 1944, Ward left the city for Milanowek (where he sent a radio message to London) then on to Czestochowa. He was aiming for Kielce but his train was stopped by German police and, as a supposed Pole, he was sent back to Czestochowa and put into a workers concentration camp. Ward was able to escape from Czestochowa with help from a German guard in exchange for fifty US dollars. After confirming he was not being followed, Ward made his way to the address of the underground chief in Czestochowa. He was advised to join the 7th Polish Partisan Division and the following day, was taken to Zloty Pottok where he contacted their commander, Colonel Wojek. Despite various promises of an aircraft, Ward was still with the Partisans when they dispersed in early December. Ward went to stay with a Lt Kowalski in Ojslawice, where he was joined by Mrs Gordzialowski. On 18 December, Ward and Mrs Gordzialowski travelled to Raszkow where they stayed with a Mr Sikorski until the arrival of Russian troops. Ward declined reporting to the first group of Russians, who arrived on about 18 January 1945 and promptly stole everything in sight, raped every female over fourteen years of age and arrested educated Poles and anyone suspected of being with the underground - most being taken away to an unknown destination. On 20 January, a Russian Secret Police officer came to the house to question Ward, having already been informed that Ward was British, and instructed him to stay where he was for the time being. On about 1 February, Ward and Mrs Gordzialowski travelled by horse wagon to Kielce (where he sent a radio message to London) and then on to Podkowa Lesne where he contacted General Cobra, head of the Polish Home Army. After giving Mrs Gordzialowski six hundred US dollars as six months pay in advance, Ward returned to Warsaw on 5 March and reported to the commandant. He was immediately arrested, interrogated and put in a cell. In the early hours of the following morning, Ward left the cell, bluffed his way past the guard in fluent Russian and walked out. He found some Frenchmen in the corridor who directed him to an American captain who agreed to help him. Negotiations soon resulted in Ward joining a party of British and American POWs bound for Odessa. Ward left Odessa for the UK on board the 'Duchess of Bedford' on 14 March 1945.
P/O Hubert Brooks (2950) was a crewman on Wellington X3467 which was damaged and abandoned over Germany on the night of 8/9 April 1942. Brooks landed near Oldenburg and was soon captured. After a few days at Dulag Luft, Brooks was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) where, having exchanged identities with a soldier, he was employed on various work parties.
On 10 November 1942, shortly after serving ten days solitary confinement for his second escape attempt, Brooks was sent to a saw-mill at Tost and in January 1943, with John Duncan (2951) in charge of the work party, Brooks got the job of lorry driver. This position enabled Brooks to acquire two maps of Europe and large-scale maps of the Tost area as well as other items likely to be useful to any escaper ...
Sgt John Duncan (2951) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He escaped the same day and evaded for fifteen months in northern France, sheltered at Saint-Gilles-de-Crétot in Normandy until he was arrested on 11 September 1941. He was held at a prison in Rouen until 1 December when he was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) where he was held in a Straflager (punishment camp) until 2 May 1942.
While Duncan was serving twenty-one days in solitary confinement cells following his third escape attempt in September 1942, when he'd almost reached the Czech border, he met P/O Brooks (2950) and they began to plan another escape ...
On 10 May 1943, Brooks and Duncan escaped from Tost by sawing through the bars on their hut window and cutting a wire fence. They made their way to Czestochowa where they contacted the Polish underground at an address given to them by an airman at Lamsdorf. The two men stayed with the underground until the arrival of Russian troops in early 1945. Brooks and Duncan left Odessa on board SS Moreton Bay on 7 March and arrived in the UK on 19 March 1945.
Fusilier Douglas Haig Peppiat (2989) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. He was sent to Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza) until June 1941 when he was moved to Oflag IX A/H (Spangenburg) where he worked as an orderly. In February 1942 he was sent to Oflag VIB (Doessel) until April when he was moved to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf.
Peppiat escaped from Arbeitskommando E-88 with Pte Bone (RA) in the evening of 4 August 1944 after being excused work by the German medical officer and spending the day collecting their escape equipment. They took tram cars to Koenigshutte where they stayed the rest of the night at a Polish work camp. They made their way east and joined up with a Polish partisan group near Trzebina where they met four Englishmen but left again three days later to be taken over to the General Government area. Peppiat went on alone from the frontier until intercepted by members of the AK (Polish resistance) who arranged for him to be taken to Swardzowice, near Krakow. He was sheltered by a family in Swardzowice for several months, during which time he was joined by Pte Mason (3065) who had escaped from Sosnowitz. Peppiat says he stayed with Mason (he doesn't mention Anderson) until their return to England and was eventually sent from Krakow to Odessa - meeting F/Sgt Pelc (3092) on the train - and repatriated to the UK. Peppiat was interviewed by IS9 on 25 May 1945.
Fusilier John Evans (3009) was wounded and captured near Dunkirk on 28 May 1940. After time in hospital and then Strasbourg (and a punishment camp for escaping) he was sent to Stalag VB (Villingen) in Germany then Stalag VB (Schildberg) in Poland, Stalag XXID (Posen) and finally Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in June 1942.
Evans escaped (for the sixth time) from Arbeitskommando E-770 at Gogolin with a Pte Metcalf in early January 1945. They had befriended some Russian forced labour girls who provided them with civilian clothing and took them to a farm owned by German women partisans. Next day Evans was taken to Oppeln, and on agreeing to join a group of German and Polish partisans, was returned to the farm. A battle with German troops killed most of the partisans. On 25 January Russian troops arrived and arrested Evans and Metcalf and accused them of being German - it was only the intervention of two of the surviving partisans who identified them as British that saved them. The two escapers were sent to Czestochowa where they joined other Allied POWs accommodated and fed by the Russian military. Three weeks later they were driven to Cracow and then taken by rail to Odessa. Evans was repatriated by sea to the UK, arriving 30 March 1945.
A/S/Sgt Philip L Pepper (3014) was captured on Crete on 1 June 1941. He was sent to Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) in August and then in October, to Work Camp 2771 at Munich.
Pepper was employed in sweeping the streets of Munich and early in 1942, he made contact with a German woman who kept him informed of news from London that she heard on her radio. The same woman agreed to supply Pepper with civilian clothes and help with his escape. In March 1943, Pepper escaped from his barracks by cutting through a wall and barbed wire fence and met the woman outside who then took him back to her flat. Pepper joined a small German anti-Nazi group which he continued to work with until the Americans arrived in May 1945. On 14 May, Pepper reported to the South African Liaison Officer (Captain McIver) and was repatriated via Brussels, arriving in England on 23 May 1945.
WO2 James F Long (3025) was a crewman on Halifax BB211 which was shot down the night of 9/10 August 1943 on a raid to Osnabruck. Long was sent to Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf. In January 1945, Long exchanged identities with Pte Lawrie (NZA) and was sent to Work Camp 748 at Marisch Trubau in Czechoslovakia, alternating between the railways and a stone quarry.
In May 1945, Long and Sgt Allen (RWKR) escaped from Marisch Trubau and made their way to Kornitz. Their intended contact at the station failed to appear but they managed to join a group of Czech partisans and Russian paratroopers. They stayed with this group until 26 May when they moved on to Prague and then continued west until they reached American lines. Long was interviewed by IS9 in London on 1 June 1945.
W/O Stanley K Gordon-Powell (3047) was a crewman on Halifax HR812 which was shot down over Belgium the night of 28/29 June 1943. The three surviving crew made contact with an 'escape' organisation in Liege (almost certainly run by the Belgian traitor and infiltration agent Prosper Dezitter) which got them as far as Paris the following month before they (and others) were captured by the Gestapo. After time at Fresnes, Gordon-Powell was sent via Dulag Luft to Stalag Luft IVB (Muhlberg). In December, Gordon-Powell was moved to Stalag IVD (Torgau) until the following August when he was returned to Muhlberg.
On 21 March 1945, Gordon-Powell and Pte A M Kuhn escaped by walking away from a fatigue party. They already had suitable clothes, supplied by civilian internees at the camp. They took a series of trains to Berlin where they had the address of a Dutch doctor who sheltered them for two days and gave them Berlin Police passes. From Berlin they made their way to Denmark where a fortunate meeting with a local milkman put them in contact with the Danish underground. On 17 April they were taken to an unnamed harbour and put aboard a trawler that delivered them to Helsingborg in Sweden. I don't have a date for Gordon-Powell (or Kuhn) leaving Sweden but Gordon-Powell's IS9 interview is dated 22 June 1945.
W/O Vernon James Bastable (3053) was the pilot of Wellington BJ883 which was lost on the night of 19/20 September 1941 and the crew captured. I don't have a copy of his MI9 report but Bastable escaped from a work camp at Lamsdorf in October 1944 ...
Cpl Alfred A White (3054) was parachuted into Sicily in July 1943 and captured. After ten days at PG66 (Capua) he was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) and after escaping from there in August 1944, to Stalag VIIIA (Gorlitz).
In January 1945, White escaped from a work party near Reichenberg (near Dresden) and headed for Nova Paka in Czechoslovakia where he believed there was an active underground organisation. Whilst taking a meal on a farm, he was identified as a British paratrooper and sheltered nearby for the next four months, working with the underground until the area was over-run by Russian troops. He was repatriated via Prague and Plzen to the UK where he was interviewed by IS9 on 20 June 1945.
Tpr John G Tasker (3057) was captured in Greece on 21 May 1941. He was sent to Stalag XVIIIA (Wolfsberg) in Austria where he joined a number of work camps. In early 1944, Tasker was sent to a Straflager at Unterpremstatten near Gratz to await a court martial for associating with Austrian women.
On 1 February 1944, Tasker and Gnr Douglas Nix escaped from the Straflager and the two men separated. Tasker went to the Austrian family who had already supplied the civilian clothes he was wearing under his uniform and they bought him a railway ticket to Jennersdorf, the last village but one from the Hungarian border. Tasker walked across the border on the night of 3/4 February, intending to make his way to Yugoslavia but he was arrested by Hungarian police near Vasvar. Tasker was sent to a work camp on an estate at Fehervarcsurgo near Szekesfehervar where he joined three other British soldiers. When the Germans entered Hungary in March, the soldiers were sent to Budapest where they were hidden in an internment camp for Polish officers. On 29 April, he was moved to another Polish internment camp at Siklos and on 21 July, to a special camp for British escapers at Leled near Esztergom. In August the nine British soldiers in the camp were joined by F/Lt Rex Reynolds and Sgt R G Curtis RAF and four American airmen.
On 29 November 1944, Tasker escaped from Leled with Gnr Gordon Parks, Tpr William Jones and Cpl Archibald Hepburn. They cut their way through the back of a shed while the other prisoners played football, and were wearing clothes supplied by some of the civilian internees. The four men walked to Budapest and the address of a Dutch family given to them by a British officer in the camp. The men were sheltered separately, Tasker with two Hungarian families, the second of which lived at Vacsatyun near Vacs where he met F/Lt Tim Barrett. On 9 December, both men were arrested by Russian soldiers and Tasker taken to their headquarters at Kecsnenedi. The Russians were apparently not convinced of Tasker's nationality and on 12 December, he was sent with Hungarian and German POWs by train to a prison camp at Debrecen, arriving 21 December. On 17 January 1945, Tasker was put onto a train and taken to an NKVD political camp at Krasnogorsk where he joined a number of high-ranking German officers and Gestapo. He was held at Krasnogorsk until 30 May when he was transferred to a French camp at Bronice near Moscow. On 8 June, Tasker was sent by rail to Odessa for repatriation.
Spr Thomas A Mason (3065) was captured at Ypres on 29 May 1940 and sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). In 1944 Mason and his friend Pte G Anderson (DLI) were on a work party loading and unloading railway wagons at Sosnowitz.
Mason and Anderson escaped from Sosnowitz during an air raid. They went to a Polish woman's house where they had arranged to meet another escaper, Pte Swain who had been sheltered there for the previous four months. Mason and Anderson were taken to the Polish Protectorate area by a group of smugglers where they met Fusilier Peppiat (see above) who was sheltered in a village (Swardzowice) there. The three men decided to stay with the Polish partisans, which they did until the area was over-run by Russian troops on 10 January 1945. Mason and Anderson were eventually sent to Odessa in April and repatriated back to the UK. Mason was interviewed by IS9 on 20 July 1945.
L/Cpl William A Richards (3066) was captured at Sphakia (Sfakia) Crete on 1 June 1941. After escaping from a transit camp at Galatos a few days later and evading on the island for nine months, Richards was recaptured on 15 March 1942. In April he was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf). On 30 August 1943, following his fifth escape attempt Richards and Pte Ramsey (AIF) - his companion on the last four escapes - were sent to a timber mill which they soon discovered was a punishment camp.
Next day Richards and Ramsey cut the fence wire and escaped into the nearby woods. After three days of walking, they met a gamekeeper and managed to convince him that they weren't Germans. He went to find four members of the underground, who questioned the escapers and then took them to Czestochova. They were fed and bathed and given replacements for their army greatcoats. They were also given revolvers but not allowed to join the partisan operations until their details had been checked in Warsaw. Richards and Ramsey were then recruited in the Polish partisan forces and in December, joined the Odwet Division. Richards (at least) remained with them until September 1944 when it was dissolved following a major battle with German troops. He was told to report to the Zelbert Division under Commandant Beech where he trained the partisans on weapons supplied by the British.
In early January 1945 and Richards and Ramsey were 'discharged' from their unit following the arrival of Russian troops, who were arresting partisans. Eventually they were able to join a POW train bound for Odessa where they reported to the British Red Cross Mission and were repatriated back to England. Richards was interviewed by IS9 on 16 July 1945.
L/Cpl Thomas J Muir (3071) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940. Initially held at Stalag XXIA (Schildberg) in Poland, Muir wanted to be transferred to Stalag XXIB (Lodz) as it was "nearer to the General Government border". He was duly moved to the old converted brick factory at Lodz in May 1941.
After evening roll-call on 3 January 1942, Muir and Cpl Ronald Jeffery (1822) used a forged key to escape through a door near the latrines. They went to the home of a Polish worker from the camp where they stayed two nights before moving on to a friend of his for another ten days. Whilst staying with the friend, they were interrogated by an officer of the Polish Home Army and supplied with false Polish papers. On 17 January, they were taken by train across the border to the General Government area and on to Warsaw where they were handed over to the Polish underground, with whom Muir stayed until the Russians arrived on 12 January 1945. Muir was interviewed by IS9 on 31 July 1945.
Pte John H Duncan (3079) was captured on 16 June 1940, after "the fall of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux". He was sent to Stalag XXIB (Schubin) until January 1941 when he was moved to Stalag XXIA (Schildberg). In February 1942, Duncan was moved to Stalag XXID (Posen) and then in May 1944, to Stalag 344 (Lamsdorf).
On about 12 December 1944, Duncan and Pte J Morton escaped from the wash house where their work party was cleaning up after a day's work in a mine at Bobrek. They had already collected a map of the local area, clothing and food and so were able to make their way across country to Czestochowa where they asked to be put in contact with the partisans. They stayed with a Polish partisan group until 16 January 1945 when the Russians arrived. The Russians refused to believe the two escapers were British and locked them up but they escaped the same night and made their way to Sosnowiec where they were sheltered by a Polish family. On about 20 February, Duncan went to Cracow where he reported to the Red Cross. Duncan was sent by cattle truck to Odessa and returned to the UK in April 1945.
Sgt Mieczslaw Cwilinski (3081) was a crewman from Wellington N1480 which was lost on 28 August 1942. Three crew baled out over Belgium and Cwilinski landed south of Brussels. He was captured and sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in September.
Airmen weren't supposed to join work details so to improve his chances of escaping, Cwilinski exchanged identities with a soldier called Patrick McAffe. In April 1943, Cwilinski joined Working Party 579 in a coal mine at Niwka near Sosnowitz in southern Poland with F/Sgt Pelc ...
F/Sgt Edouard Pelc (3092) was a crewman on Wellington Z1471 (with Raginis - see above) which was shot down and ditched off Brest the night 20/21 August 1942. Pelc was sent via Dulag Luft to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in September.
For the same reasons as Cwilinski, Pelc exchanged places with Pte Harry Simons and in April 1943, he also joined Working Party 579 at Niwka ...
On 17 April 1943, Pelc and Cwilinski escaped from the mine at the end of their shift and walked to Slawkow. In July they were recruited into the Polish partisan forces. Pelc remained with them (no details given) until January 1945 when he was repatriated back to England through Odessa. Cwilinski was sent to work at the railway junction of Skarzysko-Kamienne where he stayed until May 1944 when he moved to join partisans in the forests near Konskie. When Warsaw was recaptured by the Germans, Cwilinski was moved to Kamienna where he worked as a radio operator. On 10 April 1945, Cwlinski reported to the British Repatriation Camp in Warsaw and returned to England via Odessa.
Major L G Gaze (3086) of the Royal Tank Regiment was captured south of Gazala (Libya) on 1 June 1942. He was sent to Italy and held briefly at Campo 5 (Gavi) before moving on to Campo 21 (Chieti) until July 1943 when he was moved to Campo 13 (Bologna). When the Germans took over Italy in September 1943, Gaze was sent via Stalag VIIIA (Moosburg) and Stalag VC (Offenburg) to Oflag VA (Weinsberg) where he stayed until January 1944. In January he was moved again, via Stalag IVC (Templitz) to Oflag VIIIF (Mahrisch-Trubau) in Czechoslovakia.
When Oflag VIIIF was evacuated at the end of April 1944, Gaze and Lt Alistair Cram (2988) hid in a roof space for two days. When all the guards and prisoners had left, they came down and cut their way through the three wire fences surrounding the camp. They made their way to Moravia and a few days later the two men separated. Cram says that Gaze became ill after suffering badly from the very cold weather during their escape and he was forced to abandon him in the mountain village of Sulicov, near Brno. Cram was recaptured in Prague but escaped from a POW column in March 1945 while Gaze joined Czech partisan forces and stayed with them until the end of the war.
Pte Roderick Forsyth (3089) was captured at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux on 12 June 1940 and sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) where he joined various work parties, and escaped (briefly) from two of them.
On about 10 September 1944, Forsyth escaped from Arbeitskommando 538 at Sosnowitz. One of Forsyth's regular jobs had been to mend the electric lights that regularly fused throughout the camp and so it was easy enough to arrange another failure for the night in question. After repairing the fuse, Forsyth walked out and met one of his Polish contacts who gave him civilian clothes and took him back to his house in the town. Two nights later, Forsyth was taken to meet members of the Crakow partisan group, with whom he stayed until the Russians arrived in December and the partisans dispersed. Forsyth then returned to his contact in Sosnowitz until the Russians freed the town in the middle of January 1945. Towards the end of February, Forsyth went to Czestochowa where he joined a group of British POWs. The Russians sent them all to Odessa in March and Forsyth was repatriated back to England from there.
Pte Clement Watkinson (3091) was captured at Tobruk on 6 June 1942. After a few days at Derna and then Tripoli, Watkinson was sent to Campo 53 (Macerata) and later to Campo 55 (Busseto). There is a gap in the chronology between 14 October 1942 and 5 May 1943 so I don't know if Watkinson was at liberty during that time.
In 1 October 1943, Watkinson arrived at a work camp at Klimontow, near Cracow in Poland but he was only there a few days before he killed one of the guards and escaped with Pte Sydney Smith (Green Howards) and Pte Frank Ryder (Sherwood Foresters). Dressed in German uniforms, the three men headed for Warsaw, reaching German lines three days later. As they crawled through the barbed-wire entanglements, they found themselves in a mine-field and Watkinson lost contact with the other two - possibly lost when one of the mines exploded. For the next year or so Watkinson stayed with three separate Polish partisan groups, the last of which was taken over by Russian troops. Watkinson was liberated from the Russians in the autumn of 1945 and repatriated from Berlin in October.
W/O Keith Graley (3100) was rear-gunner of a 104 Sqn Wellington shot down south-west of Sidi Barrani on the night of 12/13 July 1942. The five surviving crew were captured by Italian troops and taken to Tobruk. Graley was sent to Dulag Luft and then Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf in September. In order to join a work party, Graley exchanged identities with a Pte Buttery. Graley escaped from a work party at Ratibor (Raciborz) in Poland on 12 December (sic) 1944 with Peter Nevines ...
P/O Peter Nevines (3106) was the pilot of Halifax DT751 which was shot down by fighters over Holland on the night of 12/13 March 1943. The surviving crew baled out and Nevines landed near Venraij. He was sent to Dulag Luft and then to Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf (Nevines was a sergeant at the time of his capture) the following month. In order to join a work party, Nevines exchanged identities with a Gdsmn Grubb. Nevines escaped from Work Camp 283 at Ratibor in October 1944 with Keith Graley ...
The camp's escape committee provided Graley and Nevines with false papers, clothing and food as well as names of helpers in Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) and they escaped after the committee arranged to have the camp's lighting system fused. They were sheltered in Poland until surrendering themselves to Russian forces in January 1945. Graley and Nevines were repatriated through Odessa and Port Said, arriving in Liverpool in March 1945 (Graley says April).
Pte Leslie B Taylor (3105) was captured with his RASC unit at Doullens on 23 May 1940. He was marched into Germany and sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) in Poland. Following an escape in March 1943, for which Taylor served ten days in solitary confinement, he was court-marshalled and sentenced to a year's imprisonment for speaking to Polish people whilst on a work camp at Bulomin (query) the previous year and put into Fort 16 at Thorn.
On 30 May 1943, Taylor and Pte Jack O'Connor escaped from Thorn with the help of a Czechoslovakian guard who not only distracted the other (presumably German) guard but also provided their civilian clothing. They walked into the town of Thorn where they hid for the rest of the night before taking an early morning train to Unislaw. O'Connor was sheltered with a gamekeeper about ten miles away and Taylor lived with a Polish family at Gzin where he met members of the Polish underground. After agreeing to work with them, Taylor stayed in Gzin until he was liberated by the Russians on 23 January 1945. Taylor was later arrested by the Russian backed Polish Militia and taken to Chelno for six weeks before he escaped and made his way back to Gzin in May. Taylor was flown back to the UK from Berlin in July 1945.
I would be very grateful to receive copies of any of the escape reports that I am missing