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Forces War Records Blog

THE REKINDLED FRIENDSHIP OF TWO RAF AIRMEN WHO BONDED IN A WWII POW CAMP

Blogger: GemSen Finding a best friend is one of life's greatest pleasures. Enjoying a close bond through hardship is even more precious. Imagine losing that kindred spirit. And imagine finding that friendship again, years later when you had pretty much given up. That's exactly what happened to Eddie Scott Jones and Harold ‘Johnny’ Johnson — two captured WWII RAF airmen who forged a friendship in a Prisoner of War Camp in 1944  who crossed paths again after an accidental meeting brought them back together.
 
Shot down on separate missions but both landing on enemy soil 23-year-old Johnny and 21-year-old Eddie met in the cells of Stalag Luft VI. Both creative types and aspiring artists they instantly bonded over similar interests and desires. The two hostages would sit together and draw helping them to cope with the situation they now found themselves in. Eddie and Johnny lived in adjoining huts and the Nazis weren’t too hard on the two in an effort to protect their valuable hostages. As aircrew they were deemed prized and weren’t allowed to work. Today they still reminisce about those times and they are documented by a series of sketches they hid from the German guards. “The Red Cross issued us with a big diary, and so we used to go round to each other, I’d go to Eddie and he’d put something in it, and I’d put something in his,” said Johnny. With a little help from their friendship they survived the Prisoner of War Camp and the war. And they must have been overjoyed when liberation came and they were awarded their caterpillar parachute tie-pins. The caterpillar was given to anyone who had been forced to parachute from aircraft. Emotional farewell But the bitter to this sweet was bidding an emotional farewell to a dear friend and Leeds-born Johnny and Liverpool born Eddie headed home forced to go their separate ways. Many years later Eddie was working at Pagan Smith advertisers in Liverpool when somebody pointed at his caterpillar tie-pin saying that somebody else in the company also had one. Eager to meet another parachuter he tracked down this colleague only to find that the wearer was his old friend and inmate, Johnny! The two had amazingly ended up in the same city and the same company and both ended up working as professional artists. Their friendship spans 70 years and they are still working together now  — their drawings have even been exhibited. Tail gunner Johnny flew with 102 Squadron and despite being called ‘golden balls’ by colleagues for always escaping in the nick of time, he wasn’t so lucky on December 3, 1942 when his plane was shot down from 15,000ft. He had to bail out of his Halifax aircraft and he ended up parachuting directly into German barracks and into Nazi handcuffs. Apparently, it was the young pilot, who died in the crash, that saved him. “I remember going up to the front and he turned round to me and said ‘get out - and that’s an order. Go!’,” Johnny told the Daily Mail. Eddie flew with the Canadian 428 Squadron and was bending some railway lines in April 1944, at Lens in northern France on his penultimate sortie, before he got captured. Annoyingly this was just before he was eligible for six-months leave. “We succeeded in blowing up an ammunition train and then set course for home when were pounced on by a JU88, and it started a fire in the fuselage.” And that is how both men ended up in the German’s most northern Stalag Luft VI, in what is now Lithuania. They couldn't beat us Apparently as well as sketching the pair also used to wind up their camp guards from time to time. “We made a great effort for them not to see us depressed. We were always laughing about something or another," added Johnny. “In the end they couldn’t beat us.” Source: Daily Mail Looking for more interesting wartime stories? Why not delve into our ‘historic documents’ library and read some of the interesting war diaries that we get sent – there’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there. Forces War Records are fortunate to receive such amazing real life war stories involving lashings of courage, and now you can read some of them – completely free of charge. Why not log on to Forces War Records and search our vast collection of records to find out more about your own ancestors  – there could be a war hero in your family just waiting to be discovered and remembered…
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