By Roger A. Freeman

One of many first Thunderbolt teams to determine motion within the eu Theatre of Operations (ETO) with the united states military Air Forces, the 56th Fighter workforce (FG) was once additionally the single fighter unit in the 8th Air strength to stay outfitted with the robust P-47 till war’s finish. Led by means of the inspirational ‘Hub’ Zemke, this staff used to be answerable for devising a number of the bomber escort strategies hired through VIII Fighter Command among 1943 and 1945. by way of VE-Day the 56th FG had shot down a hundred extra enemy airplane than the other crew within the 8th Air strength, its pilots being credited with 677 kills in the course of 447 missions. The exploits of this elite fighter unit are particular during this quantity including pictures, their plane profiles and insignia.

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After this was done the prisoner was given a copy of form M/0162 upon which was listed, in both German and the prisoner’s native language, those articles that the camp authorities deemed to be contraband. These included hard currency, civilian clothing, compasses, maps, cameras etc. – in effect anything that it was felt could be used in planning and executing an escape. The prisoner was then asked if he understood the restrictions on the list and invited to hand over any such items in his possession with the caveat that he would be punished should he decline and any of the listed items be subsequently found on his person.

With this second French ‘home run’, and ever mindful of the terms of the Geneva Convention, Kommandant Schmidt belatedly attempted to close this apparent gap in the castle’s defences by ordering the construction of a wired-off area within the park, an enclosure in which all future exercise periods would be held under close observation by the guards. It was, he felt, the perfect solution to the problem as despite these new measures the prisoners could in no way complain that their rights were being infringed.

Whilst the fateful drama of Operation Musketoon played out its final act, within Colditz plans proceeded apace for another, this time exclusively British, escape attempt. After the evening roll-call on October 14, British officers Major Ronnie Littledale, Capt. Pat Reid, Lieutenant-Commander ‘Billie’ Stephens and Canadian Flying Officer ‘Hank’ Wardle cautiously made their way to the prisoners’ kitchens. The plan was to use a window that overlooked the Kommandantur as a means to get into the German courtyard and then break into one of the storage buildings, from which they would then abseil down the outer wall of the castle and make a dash for freedom.

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