The U-boats

 FLEET AIR ARM POW ESCAPEES & ATTEMPTED ESCAPES 1939-1945 

(including all known FAA aircrew captured by the enemy Axis forces of Vichy France, Italy, Japan, German as well as interned by Neutral countries including Eire, Portugal, Spain, Sweden)

 

The number of Fleet Air Arm escapees was relatively low, but included some well known personalities. Amongst those were  Lt Peter "Hornblower" Fanshawe, a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm pilot of 803 sqdn whilst POW at Stalag Luft III was a member of the "Great Escape" Executive Commitee as was his CO Lt Cdr John Casson.


 
 


825 squadron

JB Buckley RN
Squadron: 825
Ship/Air Station: RAF Coastal Command 
Captured: 29.5.1940 
Escaped: 3.1943 

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

Crashed after a bombing raid over France, crashed near Dunkirk. Captured by the Germans.

Buckley escaped from the POW camp at Zubin, Poland with RAF Pilot Jorgan Thalbitzer in March 1943. They escaped via Stettin and Rostov, reaching the north German coast successfully. From Copenhagen they then set off in a small rowing skiff {or canoe} for Sweden, only to be drowned in the crossing, 21 March 1943. The body of Thalbitzer was washed up 3 months later. Buckley's body was bnever found.

 


 


880 squadron

D Cameron RN
Squadron:  880 
Ship/Air Station: HMS Stalker 
Captured: 9.9.1943 
Escaped: Escaped 1943? 

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

Had been flying over the Salerno Beach and unable to maintain height, was obliged to force land on Salerno Beach.  Taken into custody by the Italians but managed to escape. 

 


 
 

AWJ Capes RN
Squadron: 828 sqdn 
Ship/Air Station:  Hal Far 
Captured: 1.1.1942 
Escaped: Escaped 1943 

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

Lt Alistair Capes taken POW by the Italians and managed to escape with Loftus Peyton-Jones of HMS Sahib. Rescued by American amphibious DUKW at Anzio beachhead. (see the Times)

 


 

J Casson RN OBE
Squadron: 803 
Ship/Air Station: 
Captured: 13.6.1940 
Escaped: Did not escape

POW Details:

 

POW details

Shot down in Norway. Casson first taken to Dulag Luft (Frankfurt), then Stalag Luft III. 

He acted as a codemaster for MI9 in PoW camps, and assisted Fanshawe in his role as a member of the Luft III "Great Escape" Executive Commitee. John Casson was also a leading actor in Stalag Luft III with Rupert Davies ex 812 squadron

 

 

 

HP Dawson RN
Squadron: 830 
Ship/Air Station: Hal Far, Malta 
Captured: 14.4.1941 
Escaped: Attempted escape 

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

Captured and interned by French authorities in Tunisia. Attempted escape 

 


 


825 squadron

H Deterding
Squadron: 825 
Ship/Air Station: RAF Coastal Command 
Captured: 22.9.1940 
Escaped: Attempted escape 1944

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

German POW after operation to Trondheim, Norway. Poynter took part in the Stalag Luft III Great Escape in 1944. Recaptured. 

 


 

JR Fallon TAG
Squadron: 830 
Ship/Air Station: 
Captured: 11.11.1941 
Escaped: Italy escaped 1943 

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

Taken POW in Italy, escaped 1943

 


 

PE Fanshawe RN
Squadron: 803 
Ship/Air Station: 
Captured: 13.6.1940 
Escaped: Escape Commitee organiser

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

Shot down Norway with Lt Cdr Casson, and both taken POW by German forces. Peter "Hornblower" Fanshawe, a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm pilot whilst POW at Stalag Luft III was a member of the "Great Escape" Executive Commitee.

Fanshawe was the real sand dispersal specialist at Luft III.  The method of sand disposal shown in the film is an exact match for the real events.  Fanshawe was transferred to Belaria shortly before the escape.

He was played by David McCallum in The feature film about events in Luft III in the "Great Escape" which was made by the Mirish Company and released in 1963. (see link)

 


 

RL Johnston RN
Squadron: 806 sqdn 
Ship/Air Station: Sidi Haneish 
Captured: 25.11.1941 
Escaped: 26.11.1941 

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

FTR on 25.11.1941 to Sidi Haneish, following a recce of a German armoured column. Captured by the Germans and taken POW. Escaped the day after capture.

 


 
 


825 squadron

AD Neely RN
Squadron: 825 
Ship/Air Station: RAF Coastal Command
Captured: 28.5.1940 
Escaped: In 1944 attempted escape from Stalag Luft III (the Great Escape) 

POW Details:

 


 


825 squadron

DA Poynter RN
Squadron: 825 
Ship/Air Station: 
Captured: 22.9.1940 
Escaped: Attempted escape 1944

POW Details:

 


 

AIR Shaw RN
Squadron: 879 
Ship/Air Station: HMS Attacker 
Captured: 28.8.1944 
Escaped: 1944

POW Details:

 

POW details

 

FTR when hit by enemy AA, and the pilot baled out over Southern France. Taken Vichy French POW 

Taken POW but later managed to escape 

 

GREAT ESCAPE STALAG LUFT III

The Great Escape of March 1944 triggered a tragically severe reaction from the Germans. The diversion from Germany's desperate war effort necessary to recapture the 76 men who got away through the escape tunnel reached Hitler's personal attention and he ordered 50 of the recaptured men to be shot.

The Escape Committee at Luft III included  Peter 'Hornblower' Fanshawe RN. and the escapees who were returned to Stalag Luft II included:
Lt Alexander Desmond Neely (825 Sqdn Fleet Air Arm, born November 1917)
Lt Douglas Arthur Poynter (Fleet Air Arm, born 1921) For full list of the 75 escapees see history in Film and for additional information see The Great Escape Stalag Luft III, Sagan, March 24/25th, 1944 by Rob Davis)

See the following website link for a list and biographies of the 50 airmen murdered by the SS and Gestapo.

Three escapers, Per Bergsland (aka Rocky Rockland) (332 Sqdn, shot down in a Spitfire during the Dieppe Landings), Jens Muller (331 Sqdn, shot down 19th June 1942, Spitfire), and Bram van der Stok, succeeded in reaching safety.  Bergsland and Muller reached neutral Sweden, and van der Stock arrived in Gibraltar via Holland, Belgium, France and Spain.  Out of the 73 others, 50 were murdered by the Gestapo, 17 were returned to Sagan, four sent to Sachsenhausen, and two to Colditz Castle.  Word reached England of the atrocity; in mid July 1944 Anthony Eden, British Foreign Minister, made a speech in the House of Commons declaring that the perpetrators of the crime would be brought to justice.

See  Story of Stalag Luft III website for details. Real Video recollections of POW Kriegies from Stalag Luft III. See Web page on the Escape.
 (Requires Real Video Player)
-- Escape by Impersonating
-- Escape Preparation
-- Preparation for the Tunnel
-- Engineering the Tunnel
-- Security for the Tunnel
-- The Dodger
-- Escape and Recapture
 


Full list of FAA POWS 1939-1945

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