On TV - WWII's Great Escapes: The Freedom Trails
Channel 4 Sat 16 Sep, 8pm
In this new series over four episodes Monty Halls reveals stories of Allied soldiers who escaped from German territory during the Second World War, and meets surviving veterans who share their own personal accounts.
In the first episode, Monty tells the dramatic story of the most successful mass escape of Allied prisoners of war during the conflict. Monty discovers how they managed to hide from the Germans as they marched more than 200 miles through enemy occupied territory towards freedom and learns the risks they faced in pulling off this daring escape. Along the way Monty meets surviving members of the resistance movement that helped the Alllied escapees to avoid recapture, including the son of one of the daring ringleaders of the escape.
The huge group trekked across some of the most beautiful landscape in Europe, through deep forests and over high mountains, which were home to bears and wolves. They faced spies and firefights and battled exhaustion and the elements. At times the line of men stretched over a kilometre and they were often within a few hundred metres of enemy patrols and outposts. They relied heavily on support from local partisans. This programme celebrates the bravery of everyone who was involved.
Forces War Records has the collection of ‘WWII Daily Reports (missing, dead, wounded & POWs)’, and now a million records have already been transcribed and are now available to search by name. The National Archives does hold this collection, classed ‘WO 417: Army Casualty Lists (1939-1945)’, but their records are classified by date of injury/death/capture rather than name, so unless you know exactly when your ancestor was reported as a casualty you will really struggle to find them.