Hitler's RAF Collaborators (Hardback)
Agents or Traitors: RAF Prisoners of War Alleged to Have Assisted the Third Reich
During the Second World War over 200,000 British prisoners of war were detained by the Third Reich. A large proportion of these PoWs were members of the Royal Air Force, or airmen who served in it. A number of them have been immortalised in the many books and movies that have portrayed their valiant exploits and escapes, none more so than the events surrounding the Great Escape in 1944.
The names of camps such as Stalag Luft III, at Sagan, and Colditz Castle are well known to the general public, the prisoners incarcerated there often being held in high regard. But there were a few PoWs whose loyalty to the cause and their fellow prisoners might not have been as strong.
The names of Pilot Officer Railton Freeman, Sergeant Jack Alcock and Sergeant Raymond Hughes are among those found in that inglorious group of alleged traitors, for all three men betrayed their colleagues and the nation. The trio assisted the Nazi regime in making radio broadcasts, or even joining the British Frei Korps, a unit of the dreaded SS. One gave information about the Monica radar system to the Luftwaffe, and others got fellow prisoners to divulge information on fake Red Cross forms.
Other prisoners such as Flight Lieutenant Julius Zuromski and Squadron Leader Robert George Carpenter also came under suspicion when reports began to arrive at MI9 in London. Enquiries were subsequently undertaken by the RAF Special Investigation Branch and MI5 – investigations that would ultimately lead to the imprisonment of some and the release of others.
What these men did and why some were prosecuted, and others were released without charge, is examined by the author. Why one man in particular, an ardent Nazi and traitor, was not sentenced to death, having liaised with the likes of the infamous William Joyce, also known as ‘Lord Haw Haw’, and even Josef Goebbels, is a mystery to this day.
Sadly, not all our aviators were heroes. But there has long been debate that some of them might have actually been working for the Security Services. So, were these men traitors who collaborated with Hitler’s Third Reich, or agents working for the British State?
Tucked away in the archives of the Museum for Transport and Technology in Berlin is an old photograph of a Hawker Hurricane on public display. The image must have been taken before the night of 23/24 November 1943, when the museum and the greater part of its collection – including the Hurricane – were destroyed in a RAF bombing raid. The aircraft in the photograph bore a squadron commander’s pennant under the cockpit, had broken propellor blades and carried the squadron markings PA-A on its fuselage, as well as the serial number W9147. Intrigued by what he had seen, the picture launched…By M S Morgan
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