Twenty Days in the Reich (ePub)
On 15 March 1945 three crew members of a Bomber Command Lancaster baled from their crippled aircraft over the eastern Rhur. The author of this book was the navigator and one of those men. All three found themselves in quiet countryside but were soon captured and imprisoned in a village jail. After a short time they were moved and now unfolds the tale of how two German guards led them over 120 miles to their eventual PoW destination. Since they were close to the advancing Allied forces the transportation system was in chaos and they travelled sometimes by one of the few remaining trains or by hitchhiking. The nights were bitterly cold and precious little heating was available. The two guards were sympathetic and the small party were amazed by the civility of the local people, since the RAF was rife with tales of horrific violence when downed RAF crew fell into civilian hands, one of the results of the blanket bombing offence that was then underway. At one stage their guards fell asleep and escape was considered, but eventually rejected and they were delivered into a transfer PoW camp. Before they were rescued by Allied forces, 22 days after baling out, the three had only spent 15 days as prisoners and only 36 hours behind barbed wire.