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Forces War Records Blog

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE DETERMINATION OF A WWII RAF SPITFIRE PILOT

Blogger: GemSen Tony Snell, a World War II RAF Spitfire Pilot, was awarded a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for the lengths that he went to resisting the enemy, which included escaping from a German firing squad and leaping from a moving train.
 
Snell, in fact, had several close shaves with the Nazis, and led an interesting life during and after war - which is now being reflected on after his recent death, at the age of 91. Born in Tunbridge Wells in 1922, Snell joined No 242 Squadron in July 1940, and took part in the US/UK joint training programme known as the Arnold scheme. This training scheme was brought about to help eager young men learn to fly in skies away from the German Luftwaffe, like the USA. Patrolling over Sicily in July 1943, Tony Snell’s aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing behind enemy lines after being attacked by Messerschmitt fighters.
 
Once on the ground Snell was then pursued by a German patrol who launched a succession of hand grenades at him, which he managed to dodge before hiding in some bushes. Unfortunately, Snell was captured when he reached a German airfield and he was told to kneel down in front of a Nazi firing squad. Making a run for it and attempting to get back to Allied lines, Snell got fired at and hit in the shoulder and badly wounded. Again, his attempt failed and he was recaptured and threatened with execution. The Germans had apparently believed that Snell was a spy, but eventually he proved his identity and got taken to hospital for his smashed shoulder in Tuscany. Then he was transferred as a prisoner of war, by train, back to Germany. This wasn’t going to stop Snell though, and he and another officer leapt from the moving train while it slowed at a junction. The pair managed to join forces with some Italian partisans, sheltered by families in Modena for several months. They laid low for several months before deciding to take a risky trip via train to the foot of the Alps with the aim of reaching neutral Switzerland. They were helped by two mountain guides and eventually made it into  Switzerland where Snell could finally let out a sigh of relief. Snell was awarded the DSO for the lengths that he went to in escaping from the enemy. The DSO is a military decoration awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by military officers during wartime, and typically in actual combat.
 
Eventually discharged from the RAF in 1946, Snell’s sense of adventure long continued and he toured Africa as an actor and songwriter in a one-man show. He also recorded an album of songs and was still entertaining people until a short while before his death recently, on August 4. Source: Daily Mail Is there an undiscovered war hero in your family? Did any of your ancestors get awarded medals for their actions in war? Perhaps they did, but you just haven’t found out about it yet…Why not search the Forces War Records site and let us help you start, or continue your genealogy quest…Forces War Records also offer a range of official military replacement medals from World War I and World War II, including the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and the 1939-45 Star. Made to a very high standard, the medals are the perfect way to remember the war heroes in your family and are sourced from an MOD approved supplier.Perhaps one of your ancestors was decorated in medals for their bravery and actions in war Also, why not record your findings and import your a family tree at the click of a button with your GEDCOM genealogy software files. GEDCOM files contain genealogical information about individuals that can be linked together, imported and exported. Use this new family tree feature and take advantage of the company’s extensive record collection.
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