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PoW dies 67 years after torture by Nazis


A British prisoner of war has died from injuries he received when he was tortured by his Nazi captors more than 60 years ago.

Peter Vernon-Ward had been warned by doctors that he must have his leg amputated or face being slowly poisoned from ruptured wounds sustained when rifle butts were smashed into his legs in a German prison camp during World War Two.

But Mr Vernon-Ward refused the operation three years ago "because he saw it as giving in to the Nazis".

The poison finally killed him in his sleep on Sunday aged 86.

Mr Vernon-Ward enlisted as a 17-year-old and was sent to Dunkirk in 1940 as part of a decoy operation. But he was captured almost immediately alongside 1,000 other men and sent on a gruelling march to a work camp near Auschwitz in southern Poland.

He was told by the Nazis he would work as a miner but the young soldier refused and was tortured by Gestapo henchmen who smashed his legs with their rifles.

In agony, Mr Vernon-Ward eventually relented for fear of being shot and spent five years working in the mines.

During that time, he and fellow captives forged an escape plan and, one night, burst free from their prison.

After weeks on the run, hiding in farmland barns and being helped by local families, Mr Vernon-Ward was spotted by an American patrol and his ordeal was finally over.

He was brought back to England on a US troop carrier, and after the war settled in Hassocks, West Sussex, with his new bride Eileen.

More than 50 years later the ulcers in Peter’s legs caused by the original injuries perforated. His son Bob said:

"He was such a determined and dignified man and there was no way he was going to give in to the enemy and have his legs amputated all those years later.

"He even refused painkillers right up until he died, despite being in agony a lot of the time. I would like to say thanks to all the carers who looked after him over the past three years.

"My dad had nightmares every day of his life but never talked to me about what happened during the war until a couple of years ago.

"To me, he had the inner strength of 100 men. He was a hero and we salute him." Mr Vernon-Ward is survived by his wife, son, four daughters and 11 grandchildren.

No giving in right to the end.
What a guy... as already mentioned, Proud and Honourable through and through.

RiP Sir, you have without doubt earned our respect.
You were a real credit Mr Peter Vernon-Ward SIR R.I.P.

My sincere sympathy to Mr Vernon-ward family and friends you must of been so proud of this wounderful gentleman .

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