A POWs Memories

BThomsonGBThomsonGBv1.pdf

Title

A POWs Memories

Description

Comments on target (Frankfurt) and odds on being shot down. It was their 19th operation and out of 124 aircrew shot down that night only 10 survived, five from their crew. Mentions evading, capture, initial treatment and journey to camp (Stalag Luft VII). Met up other prisoners of war and learned of fate of other two of their crew. Provides history and description of camp.

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Four page printed document

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IBCC Digital Archive

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

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Identifier

BThomsonGBThomsonGBv1

Transcription

[underlined] A P.O.Ws. MEMORIES [/underlined]

Battle Order:

Briefing room preparations.

The date 12/9/44 – the target FRANKFURT.
398 Lancasters detailed to bomg [sic]
The central station rail lines – last major attack on the war of Frankfurt.

This was our nineteenth operation: there was a philosophy, often proved to be unreliable, which said that on your first operation there was a 1 in 20 possibility of being shot down and after five operations that became a 1in 5 chance, increasing to a 1 in 2 chances after your 10th operation.

Seventeen aircraft lost that night – of the 124 aircrew shot down there were only 10 survivors and five came from our crew.

I’ve already described out being shot down, and the eight days we spent trying to walk out of Germany before being caught on the

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outskirts of Rastatt, north of the Rhine.

On the third day we were moved to a small village jail where we met up with three other P.O.Ws. and eventually moved to Dulag Luft the Luftwaffe’s interrogation centre for airborne prisoners. We only spent two or three days there for Arnheim to take place and there was an influx of prisoners. We were put aboard a train – a corridor train with six to each compartment and were each issued with a Red Cross Food Parcel: here we had met up with two other members of our crew, who had been told we had been killed. Three were still missing and our concen[sic ]was foir[sic] our Rear Gunner who was a Jews, but when we arrived at our Prison Camp “Spag” was in the crowd waiting to greet the new entrants. We learned later that our Pilot and Mid-upper Gunner had been killed.

The train journey was over a few days, sometimes being laid up in sidings for hours at a time. Eventually we arrived at our camp. Stalag Luft VII (Banau) which the Luftwaffe had somewhat

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optimistically built in the middle of the Eastern Front in Silesia. The camp opened in June 1944 but was not yet finished when we arrived; indeed for the first few weeks we slept in small huts (kennels) sleeping six men. There was no electricity and only one water pump for over 800 men. At the end of July 36 POWs were transferred in from the Stalag 383, bringing with them their secret radio, and news of the war’s progress was distributed round the camp each night. Although the Germans new the radio existed they were never able to find it.

The new camp was built in an adjacent compound; the Germans realised that there were a number of POWs that there were a number of POWs that were Army – almost certainly from Arnheim - and the Germans decided that they should work, so they were taken to the new compound and made to help with the construction of the new huts, not realising their work was being sabotaged. The following day another group of men dressed in Army uniform took their places and continued to work in the new compound; at the end of the day when they were leaving to return to the kennel compound

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they slammed the door of the hut on which they had bene working and the roof fell in, No one worked after that!

Another ploy was to disrupt the morning and evening parades by filling in blank files. This resulted in a count of more prisoners than were actually in the camp.

The new compound contained eight barrack blocks, each of fourteen rooms – 12 PoWs to a room, two tiered bunks, a table chairs and a stove. This was luxury. Two ablution blocks, a cookhouse and a large hall with a stage. It was surrounded by a double barbed wire fence sixteen feet high with armed guard towers on every side.

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Citation

“A POWs Memories,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 21, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/34258.

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