The Long Road: Trials and Tribulations of Airmen Prisoners from Stalag Luft VII (Bankau) to Berlin , June 1944 - May 1945
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This book is firstly a testament to those of many nationalities who found themselves imprisoned at Stalag Luft VII, Bankau (Luft 7 for short) in Upper Silesia, the Luftwaffe’s last prisoner of war camp. Having survived the trauma of action against, and capture by, the enemy, some as far back as 1940, they came from France, the Low Countries, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Poland, the Balkans, Italy, Hungary, the Mediterranean and other seas, and from North Africa. Many of their experiences and adventures have never been documented before. It is also the complete history of their prisoner of war (POW) camp, Luft 7, told in full detail for the first time, a camp that existed for barely thirty-two weeks from its opening in early June 1944 to its closure in mid January 1945.
the best accommodation so far found in any prisoner of war camp in Germany’. At Luft 7 on this day there were ‘890 British prisoners of war, RAF, RAAF, RCAF personnel (non-commissioned officers), of which seven are at Lamsdorf Lazarett, one at Kreuzburg hospital and one mental case at Loben hospital [Bruce Davis]’. Another prisoner, F/S Stan Silver RAAF (see page 102), was shortly to go to Stalag 344 (Lamsdorf) Lazarett for an operation on his left shoulder ‘since the nerve specialist, Major
being continually hit by flak. At 1826½ we bombed our target and started our photo run. The flak was too accurate for this so we turned for home, weaving all over the sky.’ (Deryck Lambert.) The two gunners – twenty-year-old Sergeant Frederick John Feakins (mid-upper) and F/S Randolph ‘Dusty’ Rhodes (rear) – reported that the ‘kite [looked] like a pepper pot full of holes’ and that one of the engines had stopped. Then, at 6.31 pm, immediately behind ND702, another bomber blew up (probably
detained Station sick quarters, Manston. Remainder of crew safe and uninjured.’ Having baled out in all the confusion Don Scopes landed in a potato field a few kilometres west of Rotterdam at about 2 to 3 am (22 May). With no idea where he was, he wandered off along a rough track, as three searchlights pierced the overcast sky in the distance. The searchlights went out, and it started to rain, but it stopped soon after. Seeing a farmhouse with a light on, Don decided to take a chance. Opening
less safely onto Dutch soil. S/L Cole reckoned that he got out of the Lancaster with some 600 feet to spare. His parachute had barely opened before he hit the ground, the only damage being to his left leg. Arthur Beresford ‘landed, fairly gently, in the corner of a field’ in his stockinged feet, though with some damage to a foot. Hiding his parachute as best he could in a ditch he quickly left the area before getting some sleep. In the morning he tried his luck at a farmhouse: ‘The door opened
119). After a grim two months there he was sent to Stalag Luft III (Sagan), where the other navigator, F/L Hall, was also being held. Jim Goode landed safely in a cornfield, a dozen kilometres west of Rambouillet, and spent the rest of the night hiding in a thicket. In the morning, no sooner had he broken cover than he was greeted by a hail of machine-gun bullets, and doubled back into the corn. Moving off he was seen by more Germans, all of whom were very much on the alert, until, rounding a