Private Samuel SLAVIN 2932027 4th Bn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders who escaped with Cowan and Greig but was recaptured in Brussels in September 1941 was shot dead while trying to escape from Lamsdorf POW camp on Saturday 14th October 1944 at age 25. Samuel McKay SLAVIN was born in 1918, the son of Margaret Slavin of Glasgow Scotland he is buried in the KRACOW RAKOWICKI CEMETARY POLAND Grave 2.E.11. The photograph on the left is part of a group photograph set by Slavin to Alan Cowan's family in Glasgow from Lamsdorf POW camp.
who was shot by the Gestapo in Brussels
when he was arrested, after leaving Stalag VIG Bonne in April 1942 he
was made prisoner of war number 9982 in Stalag 344 Lamsdorf until April
1945 when he was liberated at MAEHRISCH Trubau.
Bernard CONVILLE sent his wife a postcard from Madrid it was the first news she had received from him for thirteen months. It said
"Just to let you know okay. Be home by Hogmaney. Get cigs and bottle in.
Bernard left Gibraltar on the 30th December 1941 and arrived in Scotland on the 4th January 1942 so he to must have been on the M.S. Batory and therefore didn't make it back in time for Hogmaney.
Madame Duschene wrote to him just before Christmas 1945.
"Dear Bobby and Mrs Conville,
I received your letter just the very day I posted mine so you see we were thinking of each other at the same time. I was delighted to receive the photos of Baby she is a dear little thing and I think she resembles her Dad who must be very proud of her. I am glad you received the photos alright I am sending a few more and one from Leopold that he sent us from Germany.
Enoch (Jock) Bettley after the war in N.Africa. - Photo from Betty Loveday
BETTLEY His family in an
email describe what happened to Jock after he was captured.
"All we know is that after he was captured they escaped again, and that they worked their way to Poland and through Czechoslovakia working on farms; they were also in a P.O.W camps for a while. He talked about walking all that way with no food and eating nettle stew. When they were in the POW camp, he talked of making potato peel 'hooch'. Dad never knew that the war had finished for a while, but was home in time to march in the Victory parade. He was mentioned in despatches but would never say what for. This could be found out I suppose from records. After the war he joined the Military Police and was posted to Berlin in 1946. He spoke fluent German and was on duty a lot at Potsdam and "check point Charlie" in Berlin. He travelled all over the world with as an MP, a couple off tours in Germany, Libya, Tripoli, Malta, Jamaica and of course Britain. He married after the war and had three daughters."
Enoch Bettley died in Swindon on the 28th March 1997.
Joe Harry Levy has told me he saw the soldier Joe again in POW camp Stalag 344 Lamsdorf later in the war, still clean and smartly dressed in khakis. In September 1944 Joe was working in camp 727 as a labourer , during a power cut he escaped with Private HOWES of the Royal Artillery. He was free in Poland until liberated by the Russians in April 1945. Injured in a train fire in Russia he left ODESSA in April 1945 arriving home a month later. He was awarded an invalidity benefit for his injuries in the train fire and his crimes in Brussels and involvement with De Zitter do not seem to have been investigated. Joe died in 1997.
Corporal Matthew Vaughan CONNELLY was recaptured on the 14th October 1942 and spent more than a year in a French Prison in January 1944 he was taken to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf. He was liberated by the Russians on the 1st April 1945.
|Roy Langlois in 1947|
LANGLOIS D.F.C. was prisoner
of war no.653 at Stalagluft Sagan & Belaria. On March 24/25th
1944 he took part in the famous mass escape from Stalg Luft III Sagan
which was the basis for the film "The Great Escape" starring Steve
MacQueen, in which 220 men tried to escape from the camp. In the woods
at the end of the tunnel was Langlois who could see that a patrolling
sentry had deviated from his beat and would tread within a few feet of
the tunnel. He tugged at the signal rope, meaning "stay put." The next
escaper, thinking this was the opposite signal, emerged from the tunnel
right under the feet of the guard, who until then had passed by. For
some seconds he did not see the tracks in the snow and body-heat steam
drifting upwards from the tunnel mouth. Finally noticing the signs, he
raised his rifle, fired a wild shot at Langlois (which missed) and blew
his whistle. Nearly all the men were recaptured and 50 were murdered by
the Gestapo. Langlois ( nicknamed Daddy Long Legs ) was returned to
Sagan. He had already earned the Distinguished Flying Cross before the
war for gallant and distinguished services rendered in connection with
operations in Palestine during the period 1st April 1939 until 30th
July 1939 and was to attain the rank of Wing Commander before retiring
from the RAF in 1962. He was married to Maria Kirby-Green the widow of Squadron-Leader Tom Kirby-Green
one of the RAF officers executed after The Great Escape. He died in 1993 aged 76. See LINKS page to go to
Rob Davis' website on The Great Escape.
The other three G for George airman Sergeant John McLARNON POW No139328., Sergeant Harold Joseph Edwin BURRELL POW No.139375 and Sergeant R.D. PORTEOUS POW No.32409. After splitting off from Langlois, Copley and Newton the three airmen knocked at the door of a farmhouse at Lierre near Antwerp. The farmers daughter was probably called Mlle. Justine VAN DEN EYNDE and her and the other people on the farm hid them for the night and gave them overalls to wear . The next day they were taken to Antwerp and were hidden in the house of Mme Beukelaer in Geulincxstraat until the 9th September. During this time false papers were prepared and arrangements made to get them to Lisbon by M. and Mme. MEYERBERGER of Brasschaet near Antwerp. On the 9th September they left Antwerp by train and were met in Brussels by Mrs Harris who said she originated from Birmingham she took them to the Rue Washington where they stayed 2 nights with Jean VANDENHOVE. While staying with Vandenhove they were visited by a silver haired man called WILLIE (William Reynolds?) who had previously owned a cafe in Ostend. On the night of the 11th they were taken to the station by Mrs Harris and left Brussels guided by a Major Du Normand bound for Besancon. On arrival at Besancon they went by bus to St.Laurent near Lake Geneva where they stayed the night. The three crossed into Vichy France at 3pm on the 13th September. They were to rendezvous in a cafe a few kilometers outside St. Laurent and then were to be taken by taxi to St.Claude and then by train to Toulouse. But things did not go according to plan. While they were in the cafe they were spotted by a Gendarme who questioned them and asked to see their papers. He was not satisfied with the airmens identity and took them to the local Gendarmerie where it was established that they were RAF airmen. They were then interned in St Hippolyte-du-Fort near Nimes, in the South of France, which contained many British evaders picked up by the Vichy police.In March 1942 and later taken to Fort de la Revere near Nice where they remained until August 1942. They were then taken to POW camp in Germany.
Flight Sergeant Hilary (Larry) Eldred BIRK, 402634, 99 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force reached Spain with Jack Newton 10/12/1941 he arrived in Gourock Scotland from Gibraltar on the 10th March 1942. He returned to active service but was killed in North Africa on Wednesday, 15th July 1942. Age 20. Albert Day describes Larry as a constant joker, on his return from Spain when walking around London with Albert, Larry would lead an imaginary dog, stopping to allow it to urinate and refusing to go in restaurants that would not allow dogs in. He was the son of the Revd. George Phillip Birk and Elvy Grace Birk, of Croydon, New South Wales, Australia. Buried at BENGHAZI WAR CEMETERY, Libya 6. E. 20.
Hilary BIRK's brother Doric Philip BIRK was also killed in the war. He was a Flight Sergeant in the Royal Australian Air Force 460 Squadron flying in a Lancaster III LM324 AR- Which crashed on a mission to Oberhausen. He is buried at Heverlee War Cemetery Belgium.
Pilot Officer John
Learned IVES J/92827 271
Sqdn., Royal Canadian Air Force reached Spain 10/12/1941 he returned to
active service but was killed in a plane crash in the English Channel
on Saturday, 28th April 1945. Age 24. He was the son of Carroll Sanborn
Ives and Gladys Emma Ives, of Sherbrooke, Province of Quebec, Canada.
He is commemorated on the RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, Surrey, United Kingdom,
Flight Lieutenant Howard Bertram CARROLL 68806 207 Squadron RAF.(On the left of the photograph with his cousin Spitfire pilot J. Dudley McCarthy) He was the son of Bertram Howard Carroll and of Ida May Carroll (nee Hunter)from Romford Road, Manor Park, London E12. . He probably stayed at least one night at Jean Vandenhove's tobacconist shop. After reaching Spain with Jack Newton, Hilary Birk and Gerard WAUQUEZ he arrived back in Plymouth by flying boat on the 21st January 1942 and returned to active service. He was killed in a flying accident on Monday, 19th November 1945 age 24 and is buried in HANOVER WAR CEMETERY, Germany
Grave Reference 14. B. 15.
Szczepan SCIBIOR , born Uniejow Poland 13th December 1903, was the pilot of the Wellington bomber that crashed near Charleroi in 1941 with Comete Line evaders Michel KOWALSKI and Stephan TOMICKI as crew. He was captured in Brussels at 268 Rue Alsembourg the house of Marie Le Gal, after being in hiding for nine days. Following liberation by the British from prisoner of war camp at the end of the war, Scibior moved to UK, but in March 1946 he returned to his native Poland. On his return he took command of 7th Air Bomb Regiment in Leczyca and in August 1947 he was in charge of Polish Air Force Academy in Deblin. He was arrested on August 9, 1951 and wrongly accused of being a British spy. He was tortured, tried and sentenced to death on May 13th 1952. Szczepan Scibor was executed on August 7, 1952.
In 1956 he was fully rehabilitated. His symbolic tomb is located at Warsaw's Powazki Military Cemetery.
Sergeant Albert DAY RCAF 10263 77 Squadron RAF reached Spain 25/12/1941. Albert could not leave Brussels earlier in December 1941 when Burke and Carroll went south as he had double pneumonia. Madame Jeanne Monnier in Colonel Remy's book 'Reseau Comete' relates the story. "Baron Donny ran everywhere searching for a doctor, but I saw him return empty handed. He told me it was impossible to find anyone. I then told him I would find someone. I would get my own doctor who lived on the other side of the street. . . so I telephoned Dr Raymond Kraekels. . . . he took care of Albert, visiting him twice each day. . . . he saved him. ."
Albert Day remembered the actual story differently. At Madame Duporque-Monnier house he met a pharmacist called Leo who worked at the main hospital in Brussels. When Albert was ill with bronchial-pneumonia, and Baron Donny was unable to find a doctor, Leo contacted a Doctor Lardot at the hospital who was able to obtain the drugs to treat Albert.
Albert Day died at his home in St.Louis, Missouri on the 15th March 2007. A great supporter of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society and more recently the Escape Lines Memorial Society, Al will be much missed by his many friends.
Rest in Peace Al.
Richard COPLEY have given me
information for this web site.
Jack Newton arrived in Pembroke, Wales in a Sunderland flying boat on the 14th January 1942. The first RAF man to return to Britain with the assistance of the COMETE Line. After the war Jack became a Foreign Service officer and lived in East Sussex. On the 22nd October 2000 he attended the annual reunion with their rescuers in Brussels.
Click on The Times 23/10/2000 (in the contents column) to read a report on the reunion.
He died on the 27th January 2004 shortly after his biography "Evader" by Derek Shuff was published.
" ... How then can I live among this gentle, obsolescent breed of heroes, and not weep? Unicorns, almost, For they are fading into two legends ...."
Keith Douglas (1920-1944)
in Stalag VIIIB
|"I have gone
through the expanded web site again very carefully and am deeply
impressed with the courage and fortitude of the Belgian people and all
who gave of their best, including their lives. It is important that
they not be forgotten which is why web sites such as yours are
invaluable and of great interest for future generations.