Sqn Ldr Jimmy James,POW Stalug Luft III escapee RIP

RIP Sir,
Squadron Leader B. A. “Jimmy” James, MC, survivor of the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, was born on April 17, 1915. He died on January 18, 2008, aged 92

Times Online

“Jimmy” James was one of 76 officers who escaped from Stalag Luft III on the night of March 24, 1944, and was fortunate not to be among the 50 executed on Hitler’s order on recapture. He was sent instead to Sachsenhausen concentration camp from where he tunnelled his way out, only to be caught again after 14 days on the run.

He was the second pilot of a Wellington bomber shot down south of Rotterdam in June 1940. Initially hopeful that German security would not be too tight, the Netherlands having been overrun only in May, he planned to acquire a boat to sail back to England, or at least get him far enough from the coast to be picked up. A Dutch farmer gave him food and shelter but for one night only as his presence was certain to become known: the local police arrested him before he could move on.

After routine interrogation by Luftwaffe intelligence officers and the Gestapo, he began his life as a prisoner in Stalag Luft I at Barth on the Baltic. This seemed ideal for boarding a neutral merchant vessel to Sweden, but the tunnel through which James and others dug to get out of the camp was discovered by a sentry on the night of the escape before it was his turn to go through.

A year later, in September 1941, he and a fellow prisoner dug a tunnel from an incinerator to a point beyond the perimeter and made detailed plans to walk to Sassnitz and take the ferry to Sweden. Unfortunately, although the pair snatched the opportunity of the camp lighting failing unexpectedly to crawl from their hut to the incinerator, a prowler sentry appeared as James was about to move from under the hut. His companion got clean away and reached home via Sweden.

Although involved in several other escape plans, none reached fruition before he was moved to Stalag Luft III at Sagan in Silesia. ......

Similar threads

Latest Threads