Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, Vingtor said:

I spoke to Jon Müller today, son of surviving escapee Jens Müller. Jon wants to build a model of the aircraft his father was shot down in off the Belgian coast 19 June 1942. He asked me if I could help with decals, but as the scale is 1/24, I could not. Had he only selected a smaller scale...

 

Nils

Hey Nils - what aircraft was he flying???  Any Pictures???

 

1 hour ago, NG899 said:

BIG X,

 

A quick question... which of your Spitfires is Tom, which is Dick and which is Harry?!

 

Sorry! I simply couldn't resist it. 😉

 

Cheers

 

Nick

 

 

Now I like that :clap2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting following this thread. This afternoon on telly watched 'The Wooden Horse'. A story from Stalag Luft III too.  Looks to have had a two or three 'Home runs ' too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, BIG X said:

Hey Nils - what aircraft was he flying???  Any Pictures???

 

Now I like that :clap2:

 

Big X, Müller was flying AR298 (FN-N) with 331(Norwegian) Sqn on a Roadstead. At around 11:15am Jens was shot down off the Dutch coast WNW of Zeebrugge. He spent 66 hours in his dinghy before being captured. One of the best sources of information for this is Cato Guhnfeldt's volume 2 of his "Spitfire Saga" (a history of the two Norwegian Spitfire squadrons, 331 and 332), pp 74 - 86.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Steve,

 

I've added a couple of comments to bullets 2 and 6 in my post #123 above, as well as 3 new bullets at the end of that post to help you.

 

Cheers

 

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic idea and great start of your triple build Big X!!!

 

I wasn't aware that the Great Escape happened on the night between the 24th and the 25th. On the 25th I had a day off and the family was not at home so I thought it's a good moment to watch one of my movies without being disturbed. I decided to watch the Great Escape...no idea why. The movie was the first one that came to mind. Spooky!

 

RIP BRAVE MEN :poppy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yesterday – the 30th March 1944 - Flt Lt Chaz Hall a PRU Spitfire pilot was executed.

 

It is assumed by many accounts that the fifty were unaware of their impending fate.  However, before his execution Hall had written on his cell wall "We who are about to die salute you".

 

On the same day two other men met their fate, though history does not afford them much in the way of ‘history’ to remember them by.  Neither were British – they were ‘allies’ – a Greek & a Canadian…

 

P/O ‘Nick’ Skanzikas of 336 Sqn (Greek) RAF

Flt Lt James Wernham of No.405 Sqn RCAF

 

Where would Britain have been without her ‘allies’ back then.  Where would the World be now?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Flt Lt Mike Casey of 57 Sqn (British)
  • F/O John Pohe of 51 Sqn (New Zealander)
  • Flt Lt Albert Hake of 72 Sqn (Australian)
  • Sqn Ldr Ian Cross of 103 Sqn (British)
  • Flt Lt Tom Leigh of 76 Sqn (Australian)
  • Flt Lt George Wiley of 112 Sqn (Canadian)

Today – these men – who had all been rounded up within 30 miles of the camp were selected for execution.  They had been interrogated by the Gestapo and were being held at the HQ in Görlitz.  Two of the escape survivors saw three large sedans with ten Gestapo agents collect these six officers.  They were never seen alive again.  The best guess would be that they we split into pairs, before being shot.

 

All have their own story – such as Mike Casey, who was a Blenheim pilot & whose remarkable flying won the admiration of the Luftwaffe pilot who shot him down.  He died on the edge of a wood near Sagan.

 

John Pohe was one of the tunnellers.  In the escape Pohe & Al Hake struggled through the deep snow in the forests close to the camp, but were recaptured by local patrols, their feet badly frost bitten.

 

Ian Cross was leader of the 'Penguin team' at Stalag Luft III – who famously dispersed the tunnel earth across the compound by means of letting it slip from bags – hidden in their trouser legs, which they ‘shuffled’ into the dirt – like ‘penguins’.

 

Information on Ozzy – Tom Leigh is scant, but he is known to have been killed by the side of an autobahn near Halbau on the instructions of a senior officer named Scharpwinkel.

 

The Canadian - George Wiley was the last of these six and murdered by a man called Lux.

 

These were not the only ones killed today…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Flt Lt George McGill of 103 Sqn - Canadian
  • Flt Lt Cyril Swain of 105 Sqn British
  • Flt Lt Edgar Humphreys of 107 Sqn British
  • F/O John Stower of 142 Sqn Argentinian
  • Flt Lt Patrick Langford of No.16 OTU RAF Canadian
  • F/O Włodzimierz Kolanowski of 301 Sqn Polish
  • Flt Lt Ernst Valenta of 311 Sqn Czechoslovak
  • Flt Lt Brian Evans of 49 Sqn British
  • F/O Henry Birkland of 72 Sqn Canadian
  • F/O Robert Stewart of 77 Sqn British
  •  

These ten men were also held by the Gestapo at Görlitz, but were cremated at Liegnitz to the South East of Sagan.  A survivor - Keith Ogilvie saw ‘Adam’ Kolanowski, Edgar Humphreys, ‘Dutchy’ Swain, Brian Evans, ‘Wally’ Valenta, George McGill, Pat Langford, Bob Stewart and "Hank" Henry Birkland being led away to a covered truck.

 

They were all shot in a clearing off the Görlitz to Sagan road just outside Görlitz and cremated at Liegnitz by the Gestapo.

 

This method of execution is closer to that shown in the movie and is probably the source, as it was the only execution of a large group of men.

 

Without being morbid - I think I would have preferred to be with this group...

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 6
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the last update of the day - two brave Polish pilots - Flt Lt Antoni Kiewnarski & F/O Kazimierz Pawluk – were executed.

 

They were in the first group of “walkers”, who followed those who were to catch trains.  They were led by Williy Williams and posed as a band of lumber mill workers on leave.  In a filthy cold night they headed east towards the railway lines and then south to Tschiebsdorf railway station where Jerzy Mondschein used a forged travel pass to buy tickets for the group of twelve on the 6am train to Boberrohrsdorf three hours south where they split up.

 

Kiewnarski & Pawluk arrived in Hirschberg but while walking through the town during the afternoon were arrested and interrogated in the town police station before being held in the local jail with other recaptured escapees.  Two days later on the morning of 31 March – TODAY -  Pawluk and Kiewnarski were taken away. They were shot near Hirschberg (now Jelenia Gora), but the place of they were cremated is unknown.

 

The final victim murdered today was a lone wireless operator / air gunner – F/O Dennis Cochran of No.10 OTU RAF.

 

He was murdered at Natzweiler-Struthof a German-run concentration camp located in the Vosges Mountains close to the Alsatian village of Natzwiller in France.  This is located just south of Saarbrucken – where BIG X was caught and as such he had made a run of over 400 miles in a week.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 8
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Thanks very much for the story about the escape and effort you've put into gathering it all together . What happened to some of the escapers still makes me feel sick .

 

You've done them proud ..................…. RIP

Edited by bzn20

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is nothing short of superb,one(as you know Big X)has more than a passing interest of 92 Sqn,but this is a fabulous

tribute not only to the pilot(s) of 92 that were murdered by the Nazis,but to all the Great Escapers.

 

Excellent work my friend and a brilliant tribute to some very fine and very,very brave young men.

 

Lest We Forget.

 

 

 

 

As a very,very,very small aside(One may have posted this earlier),a firm I worked for many years ago had a service engineer whom was actually named

Steve McQueen.

When asked "Has anyone seen Steve McQueen today?",the stock answer was always"No,but he did mention something about a fence and a motorbike..."

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good evening lads,  I hope we have all had a 'not too bad a day'.  Today has been a quiet day for the Gestapo - but despite their worst efforts in the last few days - today we will remember a sole Polish lad.

 

Today – 2nd April 1944 there was only one execution and not a lot of facts are known about F/O Paweł Tobolski of 301 Polish Bomber Squadron.  He was known in the camp as ‘Peter’ & had been shot down on his second mission, a thousand-bomber raid against Bremen at night of 25/26 June 1942.  His bomber Vickers Wellington no. Z1479 GR-A (the squadron commander's) was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery near Dornumergrode. (If someone builds it - please remember him)  He was subsequently captured and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III.

 

After the escape He was soon recaptured, in Stettin.  Subsequently he was murdered - today - a Sunday.  His body was cremated - like most of the others & his ashes now reside with 'most' of the fifty, at their memorial.

 

:poppy: I will remember you 'Peter'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve, that's a great piece of work in presenting very personal facts and information on the brave men behind an epic 'op'. The world was a very different place then. We can all draw strength from the courage of others so keep your chin up, old mate.  I know that you'll produce a fitting tribute through your modelling. All the best, Mike.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today – 6th April 1944 - Early this morning a surviving escaper – a Canadian - Tony Bethell heard a truck arrive at the civil prison in Sagan and six names being called out.  The following airmen were then taken away and murdered by the Breslau Gestapo, at an unknown location.  So 75 years on – it is time to remember them…

 

Flt Lt – William Grisman of 109 Sqn was known by his middle name of ‘Jack’ and was bomber crew on a Vickers Wellington.  For the Great Escape Grisman was one of the leading tunnellers and was designated as a "marshal", one of the dozen men appointed to wait in the forest after escaping to collect a pre-selected group of ten men.  Grisman's group were known as the "hard arsers" because they planned to walk the entire trip homewards rather than catching trains.

 

Flt Lt – Alastair Gunn of No.1 PRU was obviously a reconnaissance Spitfire pilot and known a ‘Sandy’.  He was based at RAF Wick and was shot down on a photo reconnaissance mission of the German naval anchorages on the Norwegian coastline near Trondheim, Norway. He was shot down by two Messerschmitt Bf 109s from Jagdgruppe Losigkeit, flown by Leutnants Heinz Knoke and Dieter Gerhard.  Gunn bailed out before his Spitfire crashed near Langurda, Norway and was subsequently captured.

 

Lt – Clement McGarr of 2 Sqn SAAF was a South African – like BIG X himself.  His birth name was Clement – but he was known as Neville.  He was posted to Egypt and on 6th October 1941, flying with his squadron on a patrol in the Sidi Omar vicinity they were intercepted by a formation of Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters of II Gruppe Jagdgeschwader 27.  Two P-40 Tomahawks were shot down by Gustav Roedel and Otto Schulz.  McGarr baled out, but his wing mate was killed in action. He landed and set off on foot with only one shoe, the other having been lost.  After three days walking through the desert without food or water he was captured by soldiers of the Afrika Korps and after only a few days in a prison camp in Libya was sent to Germany.  McGarr was ‘big’ man and though he volunteered for tunnelling he was deemed too large and worked on camp security.  Indeed he was trapped in the tunnel for a short while, due to his physical size.

 

Flt Lt – Harold Milford of 226 Sqn was shot down on the morning of 22nd September 1942.  He took off in a Douglas Boston (serial number "AL743") squadron code MQ-F. He was part of a force tasked to bomb the power station at Chocques.  After the escape he survived freezing temperatures and blizzards before being recaptured.

 

There isn’t much published about F/O – Denys Street of 207 Sqn.  He was a Brit and was shot down on the night of 29th March 1943 in a Lancaster I, EM-O.  When he escaped he was known to be wearing his RAF tunic with wings, rank and buttons – so could not have been mistaken for a ‘spy’.

 

Flt Lt – John Williams of 107 Sqn is a ‘bit of a mystery’.  Most accounts of the escape story describe him as British – but other areas of the web say he was Australian.  Similarly most accounts say he was from 107sqn – but other sources say he was ‘acting’ Sqn Ldr of 450 Sqn.  It is almost as though we were talking about 2 different men.  The internet is a funny place…

 

:poppy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Steve.

 

Alastair Gunn's Spitfire has been recovered from Norway and is pending a rebuild; it featured in a recent FlyPast iirc.

Or it may have been a recent issue of Aeroplane.

 

Memory. Tricks...

 

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An absolute thread and a half Steve,  touching and so sad, the actual details and time line almost take you there, war, terrible how it can make men behave,  wonderfull research, and I belive there's the odd  decent model being built amongst it somewhere 🤓

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally, the only other man murdered today – separately to the six – was a Brit.  Flt Lt Anthony Hayter of 148 Sqn.  Hayter's plan was to travel by train and head for Mulhouse on the French border, he wore a dark civilian suit and spoke good German.  He was posing as a Danish businessman and like Dennis Herbert Cochran hoped to cross the Swiss frontier either from France or Germany, he stopped two days in Mulhouse and on 4 April 1944 started to head south for Basel but just miles short he was stopped at Zillesheim where inspection of his papers revealed minor flaws and he was arrested and taken to Mulhouse.  Ending up in Strasbourg police headquarters he was taken away by car heading for Sagan only to be shot dead beside the road a mile from Natzweiler concentration camp, where his body was cremated.

 

At this point 48 of the fifty had been murdered, as Hitler had instructed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today sees the end of ‘The Great Escape’, until the war is over of course & some of those responsible for the murder of fifty men are rounded up and brought to justice.

 

It is now nearly 3 weeks since the breakout & 48 men have already been shot ‘whilst attempting to escape’.  None have been wounded, as this was cold blooded murder on the orders of the Fuhrer.

 

The final 2 men to be murdered were Flt Lt James Long of 9 Sqn RAF & F/O Stanisław Król of 64 Sqn RAF.

 

James Leslie Robert Long, known as ‘Les’ or ‘Cookie’ was a British Vickers Wellington pilot.  Like many of the others who actually escaped, he was a key member of the team and a top tunneller.  During the escape he made two emergency repairs to the tunnel due to roof falls and after breaking out quite late accompanied by Tony Bethell he joined the group known as the "hard arsers" because they planned to walk alone the entire trip homewards rather than catching trains.  On the evening of 29 March 1944 Long & Bethell arrived at Görlitz prison from Sagan police station where they had been held after recapture.  Facts after this point are a little scarce, but Long was never seen again after today.

 

Stanisław Zygmunt Król, known as ‘Danny’ was a Polish Spitfire pilot.  At the start of the war he was an air cadet and was initially evacuated to an internment camp in Romania.  He escaped via Beirut and then onto France – where he joined the Free Polish Airforce.  Danny was recognised as a powerful and efficient tunneller, so much so that his efforts as a pathfinder digger were rewarded with a highly prized placement very near the start of the queue to escape from the tunnel.  After the escape, for twelve days and nights he marched through the snow, with his escape partner Sydney Dowse, following railway lines eastwards past Liegnitz and Breslau, remaining at large longer than almost all of the escapers.

 

On 6 April 1944, the Germans circulated "wanted posters" with their photographs and, just 2 miles from the Polish frontier, they were arrested in a barn by a Hitler Youth member and some Home Guard men.  They were placed in prison and visited by agents of the Breslau Gestapo on 11 April 1944.  During interrogation, Sydney Dowse was told that he was being sent to Berlin for further interrogation as this was his fourth escape and that Król was to go back to Stalag Luft III.  Dowse was removed to Berlin and later to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.  Król was never seen alive again after today – 12th April 1944.

 

FOR THE FALLEN - Robert Laurence Binyon

 

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

 

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

 

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

 

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

 

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

 

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

:poppy: Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much Steve. This thread has been a wonderful reminder of these brave men and the infamy which robbed many of their lives.

 

Lest we forget.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Steve.

 

To paraphrase the Kohima Epitaph... For our tomorrows, they gave their todays.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve, thanks for your time and effort on this. 

Bless them all. :poppy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread, and the first posting in "Burn down their hanging trees" are essential reminders of what WWII was about: beating into submission one of the most evil regimes ever. 

A big thank you to every allied soldier who gave his/her time, health and life for the effort!

Richard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...