The Long Road: Trials and Tribulations of Airmen Prisoners from Bankau to Berlin, June 1944-May 1945 (BOK)
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This book is firstly a testament to those of many nationalities who found themselves imprisoned at Stalag Luft VII, Bankau (Luft 7 for short) in Upper Silesia, the Luftwaffe's last prisoner of war camp. Having survived the trauma of action against, and capture by, the enemy, some as far back as 1940, they came from France, the Low Countries, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Poland, the Balkans, Italy, Hungary, the Mediterranean and other seas, and from North Africa. Many of their experiences and adventures have never been documented before. It is also the complete history of their prisoner of war (POW) camp, Luft 7, told in full detail for the first time, a camp that existed for barely thirty-two weeks from its opening in early June 1944 to its closure in mid January 1945. The Luftwaffe were not to know when they built the camp that it would prove to be directly in the path of the great Soviet offensive of January 1945. In one of the harshest winters for many years the hungry POWs were forced at gunpoint to walk in the Arctic conditions with little or no food for over a fortnight. They eventually reached another, much larger, camp near Berlin - Stalag IIIA (Luckenwalde) - in the second week of February 1945. Although their trials were not yet over, food and proper accommodation were not forthcoming for several weeks, the Luft 7 POWs fought through with surprisingly few casualties until, in the warm sunshine of April and May 1945, with or without the permission of the Soviet occupying forces, nearly all of them went home. Respected historian Oliver Clutton-Brock and Ray Crompton have researched the camp and its aftermath in depth, uncovering previously unpublished details and photos. Part reference, part gripping narrative it is a unique work not only for the serious RAF historian but for ex-PoWs themselves and their families and anyone with an interest in the RAF in general, and captivity in particular.