Gallantry in Captivity



Gallantry in Captivity


Article headlines: gallantry in captivity, awards to airmen, many lives saved in Germany. OBEs for Group Captain Laurence F Wray RCAF shot down March 1944 for work done on evacuation of Stalag Luft 3. Wing Commander (acting Group Captain) Henry Melville Arbuthnot Day RAF alos awarded DSO who was taken prisoner in October 1939. He was senior British Officer at a camp near Frankfurt-am-Main from which he organised an escape of 18 men. Mentions great escape from Stalag Luft 3. Also mentions awards of MBEs for Flight Lieutenant Raymond B Hesselyn RNZAF and Flight Lieutenant Kenneth H Pelly Murphy RAF.

Temporal Coverage




One newspaper cutting


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Citations issued yesterday for awards to members of the Royal Air Force and others for outstanding services while prisoners of war in Germany disclose some notable instances of how lives were saved by the initiative of individuals in camps or on the march between camps, and how in other cases morale was maintained under very exacting conditions. The awards were announced in the London Gazette on December 28.

Among the appointments as O.B.E. (Military Division) is Group Captain Lawrence E. Wray, R.C.A.F., of Ottawa, who was taken prisoner after being shot down in March, 1944. He succeeded in slowing down the pace of prisoners on the march from Sagan to Bremen and then to Lubeck after the German collapse, and saved them from being left to the mercy of the German population. He also risked being given up to the Gestapo or the S.S. by the commandant. At Bremen and Lubeck he improved the accommodation of fellow prisoners, in spite of the danger of reprisals from the Germans.

A similar award goes to Wing Commander (now Acting Group Captain) Harry Melville Arbuthnot Day, R.A.F., whose award of the D.S.O. was also announced the same day. One citation says that, taken prisoner in October, 1939, he was senior British officer at a camp near Frankfurt-am-Main, from which he organized the escape of 18 men, including himself. After his recapture he organized daring attempts at escape from successive camps, and was regarded by the Germans as dangerous. He was removed to a camp in Poland and later to Stalag Luft III, from which he helped to organize the escape of 80 men in March, 1944, through a tunnel. Fifty of the recaptured men were murdered by the Germans, and Day was removed to a camp in Berlin. On recapture after another escape he was chained to the floor of the condemned cell of a concentration camp for several weeks.


The citation in connexion with the award of the Distinguished Service Order to Acting Group Captain Day refers to his various attempts to escape after being captured and recaptured.

Another who obtained the O.B.E. (Military Division), Squadron Leader L. W. Vaughan Jennens, R.A.F., acted as adjutant to the senior British officer at Stalag Luft III, being practically its manager. Apart from what he did directly to improve the lot of the inmates, he handled the Germans with such tact that he was able to modify severe and inhuman orders and obtain many concessions.

Flight Lieutenant Raymond B. Hesselyn, R.N.Z.A.F., while personnel officer at Stalag Luft I, Barth, contributed to the well-being of British and American prisoners during periods of starvation and depression. He was also able to hand permanent records, including confidential reports, on 1,400 air crew to the Air Ministry on release. He was appointed M.B.E. (Military Division).

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth H. Pelly Murphy, R.A.F., received a similar award, took charge of the office administration of various camps, handling correspondence with the Red Cross, the protecting Power, Y.M.C.A., and next-of-kin, as well as communications with the detaining Power.


“Gallantry in Captivity,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 19, 2024,

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